‘Hibs’ biggest issue is keeping Celtic out’ - Journalists’ predictions for Hibs v Celtic
Our online team give their verdict on Saturday night’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final clash between Hibs and Celtic at Easter Road...
This is a tasty prospect. Neil Lennon’s quicker-than-anticipated return to his old stomping ground adds fuel to the fire. Hibs are going to be up for this one and they’ve played well against Celtic at home in recent times. Marc McNulty and Florian Kamberi are more than capable of breaching the visitors’ rearguard, but the biggest issue for the hosts is keeping the Celtic out. Hibs’ defence creaked against St Johnstone and Celtic have the pace and clinical nature to punish them more than the Saints did. A thrilling cup tie awaits - but Celtic will prevail. Prediction: Celtic win
Hibs, even at a low ebb towards the end of Neil Lennon’s reign, were able to rouse themselves enough to comfortably defeat Celtic at Easter Road in December and, with a bit of momentum behind them this time, I think they can do so again. Prediction: Hibs win
People will talk of ‘a tough week’, ‘resiliency’, ‘showing character’ blah blah blah, but Celtic were not good against Hearts in the midweek. The hosts were the better side before the away side scored on the counter, while Celtic created only a couple of chances in the second half, taking one, despite playing the entire period against ten men. They’ll have to perform a lot better against Hibs, who really have some momentum behind them off the back of three straight weeks. With Easter Road rocking and a dressing room desperate to get one over on their old boss, I’m picking the hosts. Prediction: Hibs win.
Football throws up some of the most unlikely scenarios with the visit of Neil Lennon’s Celtic on Scottish Cup quarter-final duty this weekend right up there. But that just adds a little spice to what I expect will be a cracking cup tie between two very attack-minded sides. Hibs certainly have the ammunition to hurt their opponents, none more so than Marc McNulty who is in a rich vain of goalscoring form. I think Hibs will score but it’s whether or not the back four can stop the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Scott Sinclair and James Forrest from doing just that and more. This is new boss Paul Heckingbottom’s biggest test since his appointment last month and one he will be relishing. The prize of a semi-final appearance at Hampden is a big incentive and one I think Hibs can claim. Prediction: Hibs win
The earlier-than-expected return of Neil Lennon to Easter Road is a fascinating sideshow to what should be a breathless and frantic Scottish Cup tie. It’s hard to imagine Lennon tholing the same sort of performance that so nearly allowed ten-man Hearts a draw on Wednesday, and he’ll be desperate to beat his former employers on their own patch - for personal pride and to advance Celtic’s pursuit of a third treble. HIbs have looked better going forward under Paul Heckingbottom but the Hoops will be his sternest test yet, and Celtic’s attackers will surely prove too strong for the Easter Road back four. Prediction: Goals for both teams but Celtic to edge it
Many Hibs fans will be pretty miffed with the fact Brendan Rodgers defected to Leicester City, although not nearly as much as Celtic supporters who branded as everything between a “fraud” and a “rat”. The Northern Irishman failed to win at Easter Road during his time in Scottish football. The Hibees have made life difficult for both sides of the Old Firm in recent years and in Marc McNulty and Florian Kamberi they have a strike partnership to trouble the best defences in Scotland. They have developed a fine relationship, netting eight goals between them in the four games in which they have started together. However, concern comes in the set-up. The flat 4-4-2 with Daryl Horgan and Stevie Mallan in wide areas could see Hibs dominated in midfield and the strike pairing become isolated and frustrated. Celtic, under Neil Lennon, struggled against Hearts and Hibs may use that as a blueprint to press them. It will be tight, but like Tynecastle on Wednesday Celtic will edge it by a fine margin. Prediction: Celtic win