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Bhoys' Easter Hunt in Lions' Den

Discussion in 'TalkCeltic News' started by Taz, Mar 29, 2024.

By Taz on Mar 29, 2024 at 8:34 PM
  1. Taz Blind Justice Gold Member News Writer

    Sep 3, 2009
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    Bhoys' Easter Hunt in Lions' Den
    ~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~

    Daizen Maeda scored a hatrick in the 4-2 Scottish Cup win against Livingston, earlier this month
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Tony Macaroni Arena, Almondvale
    Sunday, 31 March 2024
    12.00 BST

    The Hoops return to Premiership action after the International break, with a trip to West Lothian to take on the league's bottom club, Livingston on Sunday.

    These sides met shortly before the break on Scottish Cup duty, with the Bhoys coming out 4-2 victors, but not without a few scares along the way.

    With just this one last game to tune up before what is anticipated to be a difficult visit to Ipox next week, Brendan Rodgers will need to have been putting this break to good use, in addition to getting key players back from injury for what could be a telling day in the title race.

    But all of that is meaningless, unless the Hoops can take care of business against Livingston on Sunday, and it is for that reason that makes this game so important.

    While on paper, the Bhoys should have more than enough to secure the points on Sunday, all it takes is a little bit lacking in the preparation, diverted attention or even the vagaries of some debatable officiating to make this a potential banana skin.

    And while winning the game is essential, it will be a boost for the confidence if the Celts can also produce a clean sheet, given how leaky the defence has been throughout this campaign - and especially with just a solitary one to show since January.

    Rodgers will be missing from the dugout this weekend after being handed a 1 match suspension

    At the other end of the table, Livingston have struggled all season and are currently 10 points adrift behind 11th placed Ross County, and unless a minor sporting miracle occurs, the West Lothian side seem all but certain to be facing the drop after 6 seasons in the top flight.

    If there is anything we have learned since 2018, is that Livingston have all too often been a thorn in Celtic's side, and that nothing can be taken for granted.

    Although the Hoops have won on their last 3 visits there, they still have a less than 50% win record at the Tony Macaroni Arena since the Lions' Premiership return, with the artificial surface providing an added difficulty over that period (P8 W3 D3 L2).

    A win on Sunday is important for another reason also, as it will only be the second time this season that the Hoops will have recorded a third straight win across all competitions.

    Considering how tight the title race is expected to be through the remaining fixtures, Celtic really will need to be close to perfect in terms of results if they are to retain their Premiership crown - and that starts on Sunday.

    Nicholas Kuhn impressed during the last few games before the International Break

    By the Numbers

    • The Hoops have won each of the past 7 consecutive meetings against Livingston.
    • Celtic have kept just a single clean sheet in the past 9 games - and none in the past 7 league matches.
    • Celtic have won the last 3 visits to Almondvale, but prior to that had struggled there since Livingston's Premiership return in 2018 (P8 W3 D3 L2).
    • The hosts have scored just 9 goals at home in the League this season.
    Yang Hyun-jun returns after having missed the last couple of games through suspension

    Team News

    The Hoops will be hopeful of a return to action after injury lay-offs for the likes of Reo Hatate, Maik Nawrocki and Liam Scales, in addition to the return of Yang Hyn-Jun, after the winger missed the past couple of games through suspension.

    Skipper Callum McGregor and Luis Palma remain sidelined for this Livingston game, with Rodgers hopeful the pair will be ready for next weekend.

    As for the hosts, David Martindale has revealed that Michael Nottingham, Mikey Devlin, Jack Hamilton and Scott Pittman have all returned to full training during the break and are in contention ahead of Sunday.

    However, Joel Nouble and James Penrice remain sidelined.​

    Referee: Don Robertson

    Celtic will be looking for a better result than the last time Robertson took charge of a game involving the Hoops, when they went down 2-0 to Hearts, earlier this month - a repercussion of which is why Rodgers will be away from the dugout for this game.

    Celtic's Overall Record
    M:35 W:30 D:3 L:2

    VAR: Alan Muir


    [​IMG] ~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~ [​IMG]

    P: 36 W: 27 D: 7 L: 2

    Last 5 Meetings
    W W W W W

    [​IMG] ~~~~ 2022/23 Form ~~~~[​IMG]

    W W L W W ~ L L D L L

    W L W W D ~ L D L L W
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2024
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