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Preview: Celtic vs. Livingston - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Livingston, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Celtic head into their Scottish Premiership encounter with Livingston on Saturday with pressure mounting on them to close the 21-point gap to rivals Rangers at the top of the table.

The Hoops have lost just two of their last 44 home league games, while Livingston could extend their winning run in the top-flight to seven matches if they were to secure three points this weekend.


Match preview

Celtic's Christopher Jullien celebrates scoring their first goal on December 8, 2019© Reuters

Celtic endured another difficult week as they were heavily criticised for a controversial warm-weather training trip to Dubai, which resulted in defender Christopher Jullien contracting coronavirus.

Along with Jullien, another 13 players and manager Neil Lennon – who were all deemed close contacts with the Frenchman – were forced into self-isolation, which resulted in the Hoops naming a depleted side that drew 1-1 at home to Hibernian on Monday night.

Celtic's chief executive Peter Lawwell has since admitted that the decision to go to Dubai was "a mistake" and he has apologised to Hoops fans, who themselves were leading the widespread criticism.

The draw with Hibs has left Lennon's side an enormous 21 points behind rivals Rangers at the summit of the Scottish Premiership and the gap at the top would still remain huge even if they were to win their three games in hand.

Celtic head into their clash with Livingston having won 11 of their previous 12 top-flight home games against them, drawing the other encounter 0-0 in April 2019.

Victory on Saturday would be their first in three league matches and could move them eight points clear of Aberdeen in third if they were to lose away to Ross County.

Rangers defender Filip Helander gets a shot away in the Scottish Premiership clash with Livingston on August 16, 2020© Reuters

Livingston were unable to extend their winning league run to seven matches on Wednesday night as their home game with Aberdeen was postponed for the second time.

The team's fixture against the Dons, originally scheduled for December 30, was postponed on the day because of a frozen pitch and was called off again on Wednesday, this time due to a waterlogged pitch.

Manager David Martindale has transformed his Lions side since his appointment in November, winning all eight matches in charge, and he will be hoping to continue this run against what is expected to be an under-strength Celtic side on Saturday.

However, Livingston have a dismal record against the Hoops; from 2001 to 2018, the Lions lost 16 consecutive league meetings with Celtic, although they have since avoided defeat in four of their last six against them in the Scottish Premiership.

Livingston have scored two or more goals in all six league victories under Martindale and have also conceded just three times in this period.

Securing the three points this weekend would keep the Lions in fifth place but could move them four points behind Hibernian in fourth if they were to lose at home to Kilmarnock.

Celtic Scottish Premiership form: WWWWLD
Celtic form (all competitions): WWWWLD

Livingston Scottish Premiership form: WWWWWW
Livingston form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Team News

Celtic manager Neil Lennon pictured on January 2, 2021© Reuters

Celtic could be forced to name the same starting lineup that drew with Hibernian on Monday.

David Turnbull, who has scored four goals in his last five matches, is expected to start in an advanced midfield role alongside Tom Rogic and Mikey Johnston.

American forward Cameron Harper, who made his league debut for Celtic against Hibs, could start once again up front, as up to six forward players – Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths, Albian Ajeti, Patryk Klimala, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Ryan Christie – are expected to remain in self-isolation.

With 11 matches to play in just 35 days, Livingston boss Martindale has made it clear that his team selection would not be impacted by their congested schedule.

The Lions are still without Alan Lithgow (ankle) and Keaghan Jacobs (foot), who are both nursing injuries.

Defender Jack Fitzwater, who has missed the previous three matches, was expected to make the bench against Aberdeen and so is likely to start as a substitute on Saturday.

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Hazard; Frimpong, Welsh, Duffy, Laxalt; Soro, McGregor; Turnbull, Rogic, Johnston; Harper

Livingston possible starting lineup:
Stryjek; Devlin, Ambrose, Guthrie, Brown; Bartley, Holt, Mullin, Pittman, Sibbald; Robinson


SM words green background

We say: Celtic 1-1 Livingston

Celtic are to view each league fixture they face as a must-win if they are to have any hope of narrowing the gap between themselves and Rangers; their clash with an inform Livingston outfit could prove to be a tricky test, especially with a weaker side, which could see the Hoops drop more points on Saturday.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


ID:430539:cQx:QQ:

How you voted: Celtic vs Livingston

Celtic
52.3%
Draw
25.0%
Livingston
22.7%
44
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Celtic's Christopher Jullien celebrates scoring their first goal on December 8, 2019
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Gavin Strachan defends Celtic's decision to take Christopher Jullien to Dubai
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1RangersRangers3127407496585
2Celtic31207465234267
3Hibernian30157841281352
4Aberdeen3113993230248
5Livingston30117123636040
6St Mirren31109122934-539
7Dundee UnitedDundee Utd31811122843-1535
8St Johnstone31810133240-834
9Motherwell3188152846-1832
10Ross County3075182254-3226
11Kilmarnock3174202743-1625
12Hamilton AcademicalHamilton3067172957-2825

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