‘Neil Lennon’s presence will add chilli powder to a spicy encounter’: Journalists’ predictions for Hearts v Celtic

Christophe Berra clears the ball under pressure from Odsonne Edouard during a previous clash between the two sides. Picture: SNS Group
Christophe Berra clears the ball under pressure from Odsonne Edouard during a previous clash between the two sides. Picture: SNS Group
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Our online team give their verdict on Wednesday night’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle Park

Mark Atkinson

This match has been thrown a curveball by the managerial upheaval at Celtic in the past 24 hours. Brendan Rodgers won’t be in the dugout, but Neil Lennon will. His presence will certainly add more chilli powder to an already spicy encounter. The biggest question, though, is how the Celtic players react. They have more than enough quality to defeat a Hearts team that is stuffy and uninspiring right now, but their train of thought is surely skewed by what’s gone on behind the scenes at Parkhead. The Jambos had an admirable record over Rodgers’ Celtic in Gorgie and they have been presented a really good opportunity to (a) beat the champions and (b) reignite their form after some stuttering performances. Prediction: Hearts to win

Anthony Brown

The departure of Brendan Rodgers could have a destabilising effect on a Celtic team who would ordinarily be expected to get the better of a Hearts side whose early-2019 form spurt has petered out in the last three league games. Having won two of the last three meetings between the teams in Gorgie, the hosts know they have the beating of the champions on their day, and with all of their main players now back in the mix after injury, the big-game atmosphere at Tynecastle should bring out the best in Craig Levein’s misfiring side once more. Prediction: Draw

Craig Fowler

An opponent who won’t allow Hearts possession and dare them to move quickly enough in order to break them down is exactly the type Craig Levein’s side need to face at the moment. They need a performance to lift intensity levels and get Tynecastle rocking again after a dreadful start to 2019 at their home ground. However, Celtic are once again a clear cut above everyone else in Scottish football thanks to their January reinforcements and are unlikely to drop many more points en route to the title. Prediction: Celtic win

Neil McGlade

The next few weeks could really determine where Hearts end up finishing this season. Their recent slump now has supporters fearing for their place in the top six. The Jambos need to start picking up points soon but that will have to wait until after tonight’s visit of Celtic. Irrespective of the Brendan Rodgers news, Celtic have far too much quality to leave Tynecastle with anything other than three points. Prediction: Celtic win

Patrick McPartlin

Hearts will be looking to bounce back after following up the last-gasp defeat at Motherwell with a rather uninspiring draw against St Mirren. Celtic may be the last team some fans would want Hearts to face but in some ways it presents a free hit for Craig Levein. His side have triumphed twice against Celtic in league matches at Tynecastle in recent memory and while they might struggle to record another victory without Kyle Lafferty, I wouldn’t put it past the Jambos to frustrate Celtic and earn a draw in the process. Celtic’s manager upheaval could also have an impact on the game one way or another. Prediction: Draw

Joel Sked

A curve-ball has been thrown with the Brendan Rodgers news. Celtic will likely be in a state of disarray, or at the very least slightly off-kilter. It is the perfect opportunity for Hearts to strike but it is imperative Hearts get off to a quick start. It is something which Craig Levein talked about in the aftermath of the tepid draw with St Mirren and in the build up to this encounter. The ball needs to be moved forward quicker, something the team have done well against Celtic at Tynecastle recently. A return to the attacking trio of Steven Naismith, Uche Ikpeazu and Steven MacLean must be in Levein’s thoughts. A fast, direct start will be a big test for Celtic and their focus. Prediction: Draw