Celtic have slipped up in their pursuit of defending champions Rangers in the Scottish Premiership and find themselves six points adrift of their fierce rivals. They take on bottom club St. Johnstone on Boxing Day in a must-win game after being held to a draw in their last outing.
It’s been a nightmare season for Sunday’s hosts so far, with them being four points away from safety and needing a miracle to turn things around. They have lost their last six league matches, conceding 10 goals and scoring a measly two goals.
St. Johnstone’s nightmare continued on Wednesday (December 22) when they lost 2-1 at home to Ross County. Celtic played out a goalless draw against St. Mirren and are second in the table.
With six losses in the last six games, it’s clear that St Johnstone is in poor form at the moment and that they game against one of the best clubs in the country comes at a bad time for them. The team is also last in the standings at the moment and while they are not that far from a few other teams, they are the prime candidate for relegation. MacPherson and Wotherspoon are out of this game, while Vertainen, Clark, and Rooney are questionable.
After nineteen games in the league have passed, Celtic is six points behind Rangers, which can be a big difference in a league like Premiership. However, Celtic is on a good run with four wins and two draws in the last six games and the team already has a better goal difference than Rangers, so that’s a plus. That being said, Celtic has a lot of players on their injury list – Ajeti, Dembele, Forrest, Jota, Julien, Turnbull, and Giakoumakis are all out with injuries.
Celtic to Win with Handicap (-1)
While Celtic is currently six points behind their biggest rival Rangers in the standings, they are in good form and have won four games in a row now. Meanwhile, St Johnstone lost six games in a row and they are in the last place in Premiership.
So, it’s pretty clear who is the favourite in this game and we expect Celtic to justify this tag by beating St Johnston by two goals or more, just like they did in two of their last three meetings.
Celtic to Win at Half Time and Full Time
Since we expect Celtic to win this game by two or more goals, we also expect them to take the lead in first half and keep it until the end of the game.
After all, Celtic lead at half time and won the game in two of the last three head-to-head duels with St Johnstone, so we can certainly see that happening once again on Sunday.
Celtic to Win to Nil
The last three h2h duels between St Johnstone and Celtic have all ended with Celtic winning the match without conceding a goal and we expect the same to happen in their next match as well.
In addition to this, St Johnstone failed to score in five of their last eight matches in the league, while Celtic won 42% of their games without conceding a goal.
St. Johnstone vs Celtic Head-to-Head
The Hoops have well and truly dominated this rivalry over the years, with them winning 39 of their 50 meetings. St. Johnstone have won only four of these games. seven games have ended in draws.
Celtic won the last meeting between the two sides by a 1-0 score line in the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup in November this year.
St. Johnstone form guide (overall): L-L-L-L-L
Celtic form guide (overall): D-W-W-W-W
St. Johnstone vs Celtic team news
The Saints have been hit by a COVID crisis in a season that was already unraveling before the storm. The likes of Zander Clark and Eetu Vertainen remain in quarantine. David Wootherspoon has been out since November with a cruciate ligament issue.
Injured: David Wootherspoon, Cammy Mcpherson
Unavailable: Chris Kane, Eetu Vertainen, Shaun Rooney, Zander Clark
The Celts, on the other hand, have a multitude of injury concerns. Important players like Jota and James Forrest are part of the injury list. Joe Hart is also doubtful and missed the draw against St. Mirren. If he misses out then Scott Bain will again take his place between the sticks.
Injured: Jota, David Turnbull, Karamoko Dembele, James Forrest, Kyogo Furuhashi, Christopher Jullien, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Albian Ajeti
Doubtful: Joe Hart
St. Johnstone vs Celtic predicted XI
St. Johnstone predicted XI (5-3-2): Elliot Parish; James Brown, Lars Dendoncker, Liam Gordon, Jamie McCart, Callum Booth; Craig Bryson, Callum Davidson, Jacob Butterfield; Michael O’Halloran, Stevie May
Celtic predicted XI (4-5-1): Scott Bain; Liam Scales, Stephen Welsh, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Anthony Ralston; Nir Bitton, Owen Moffat, Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, Michael Johnston; Liel Abada
St. Johnstone vs Celtic prediction
Despite missing quite a few first-teamers for this Boxing Day league game, Celtic look too strong for the basement club in this game. They dominated the ball in their goalless draw against St. Mirren and had a host of chances to settle the issue.
They will be looking to avoid any further slip-ups of the same nature in their quest to regain the league title. The Scottish League Cup champions have already beaten Sunday’s opponents twice this season and we are predicting a repeat of the same.
Prediction: St. Johnstone 0-3 Celtic