Hearts have less time to prepare for this clash as they travel to Zurich for a European tie on Thursday, whereas Celtic’s squad haven’t been stretched at all, with no European encounters until the Champions League group stages.
Robbie Neilson expects to have both Alex Cochrane and Craig Halkett available for the game against Zurich after they picked up knocks in last weekend’s 4-1 rout of Dundee Utd, but there’s no doubt Celtic will be the fresher side, while they enjoyed much greater squad depth to start with to change things from the bench.
Hearts remain unbeaten after two wins and a draw, but the Hoops enjoyed a positive unbeaten pre-season and have eased into the season with comfortable victories over Aberdeen (2-0), Ross County (3-1) and Kilmarnock (5-0).
Kyogo Furuhashi is back flying with goals in their last two games and there’s actually been seven different goalscorers already, as Ange Postecoglou’s side look set to blow a number of teams away this season.
Celtic have now won 29 of 34 unbeaten league games since the start of October, including 13 of their last 14 at home, as nothing short of three points seems acceptable for the Glaswegian giants these days.
They’ve bagged at least three goals in six of their past nine at Parkhead, including a 4-1 win over Hearts in May, so it’s understandable they’re short-priced favourites to secure another victory.
Although Hearts were clearly the best side behind Celtic and Rangers last term, finishing 13 points ahead of fourth-placed Dundee Utd, they still struggled badly against the Old Firm duo.
They were W1-D1-L6 in league clashes, where they trailed at the break on seven occasions, while they trailed at both half time and full time against Celtic in the League Cup and lost the Scottish Cup final in extra time to Rangers.
Kyogo Furuhashi To Score Anytime
Such is the firepower available to Ange Postecoglou that many players could get in on the act, with Japanese ace Kyogo Furuhashi leading the market.
There had been some calls for Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis to start, offering a more robust physical presence, but Furuhashi’s devastating movement caused havoc against Kilmarnock last weekend and without any midweek fixtures, should retain his shirt.
He’s scored in all three games he’s started against Hearts previously and having seemingly overcome any hamstring concerns, looks set to recapture the electrifying form he started out with last season.
KYOGO FURUHASHI TO SCORE ANYTIME
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