Following the success of Kyogo Furuhashi, Celtic have dipped back into the J League for three new signings, midfielders Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi, as well as winger Daizen Maeda. Furuhashi is actually a doubt for this fixture, while David Turnbull remains sidelined, but Ange Postecoglou has a full complement to choose from beyond those two.
The Hoops will hope that the extended winter break hasn’t halted their momentum as they were in imperious form heading into the New Year. They were W16-D2-L1 across all competitions since the start of October, with their sole defeat inflicted by a narrow margin away to Bayer Leverkusen in Europe, a spell which includes eight wins from their past nine unbeaten matches.
Hibernian saw an uptick of their own form in their final encounters, with three victories from their last four, though the exception was a defeat to Celtic themselves in the League Cup final.
They’re a less impressive W5-D2-L8 going back to the start of October, including defeats in four of five tussles with the Old Firm duo, as the exception saw them take advantage of Rangers being between managers at the time.
Admittedly, three of those five defeats came by one-goal margins, with a 3-1 loss to Celtic in late October the only time they’ve lost by more than a single strike in five clashes with the Hoops themselves.
In fact, five of Hibs’ last six losses to anyone have finished either 1-0 or 2-1, so we wouldn’t expect the hosts to run riot even if they should come away with the spoils.
Celtic To Win By One Goal
Celtic have actually won 12 of 15 home league games since the start of February, while despite some defensive deficiencies, still registered 11 clean sheets and never conceded more than once in a game.
They did however win just six of the 15 games by more than a single goal, including one of the past six as that came in a fairly modest 2-0 win over rock-bottom St. Johnstone.
Hibs haven’t been inactive in the transfer window either and have a pair of new defenders, with Harry Clarke and Rocky Bushiri joining on loan from Arsenal and Norwich respectively.
Winger Chris Mueller has joined from Orlando City and teenage striker Elias Hoff Melkersen has signed from Norwegian outfit Bodo/Glimt.
However, the visitors will be without suspended duo Ryan Porteous and Paul McGinn here, as well as Kyl Magennis (injury) and Ewan Henderson (ineligible to face his parent club).
CELTIC TO WIN BY ONE GOAL
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