Another rude awakening for Celtic on the cards
Well-travelled and newly installed Glasgow Celtic head coach Ange Postecoglou has not had a good week. The Bhoys were unceremoniously dumped out of the UEFA Champions League qualifying phase by Danish outfit FC Midtjylland 3-2 on aggregate, and it wouldn't have been lost amongst the hordes of fans the club have that the same opposition were comprehensively beaten by Old Firm rivals Rangers two years ago. Now though, they must quickly regroup without any supporters for the opening SPFL match of the nascent 2021/2022 campaign away to Hearts in Tynecastle. Robbie Nielson's men will sense a surprise result is there to be taken
Boyce is motoring
Having regained a seat at the top table after winning the Championship last term, the Jam Tarts have thus far made light work of the opponents they've faced; the Scottish League Cup can feel like a glorified set of friendlies for first tier sides, but even were that the case, Nielson's charges have yet to concede a goal, and have shared their own throughout their squad, especially in the forward lines. Northern Ireland international Liam Boyce should return to lead the line in an attacking three, whilst there is enough defensive flexibility and fluidity in the roster to allow either the same number at the back, or a more traditional looking quartet. Transfer business to date for the Edinburgh outfit has been modest, but has focused on key areas to improve with players being recruited before their prime years. Ross Stewart will provide genuine competition to captain and goalkeeper Craig Gordon (now 38), and will doubtlessly be groomed over the year to make the transition between the two smooth. Meanwhile, ex-Preston North End left winger Josh Ginnelly will rotate with Gary Mackay-Steven to ensure Boyce establishes himself as the man to dislodge at the spearhead.
Odsonne him leaving
Postecoglou is not the type of personality to sit timidly in the dugout or the post-match press conference when he knows, for one reason or another, that his side have come up short. Celtic came up short in Denmark via fine margins, but also because of a lack of game-changers amongst the substitutes. The Australian was left to rue the struggles in the summer window to date, and could continue to be without new signing Kyogo Furuhashi for the weekend. The 26 year old Japanese international, purchased for approximately £6m, is unlikely to have been persuaded to ditch the J-League where he was prolific for life at Parkhead halfway across the world to sit alongside his new boss more often than not. Odsonne Édouard has been the top scorer north of the border for the past two seasons, but the board are unlikely to be able to refuse a bid of around £20m for his services from a clutch of interested English clubs, should any of them table offers. That might provide some wiggle room, but it would then be a job to replace the rangy marksman in a timely fashion, and with individuals who would then sate fans and close the gap on their hated rivals at the summit.
The Hoops won't go quietly into the night, and will still be favourites on paper to get a result in the capital. That said, morale at the club will be at a low after missing out on the financial benefits their presence amongst the elite of Europe would've brought, and will now as a consequence be fishing in more modest waters for reinforcements. betway have odds of 3.40 for Hearts to score 1.5 goals against a very ordinary Celtic backline on the night.