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Hoops hoping to extend lead at Scottish Premiership summit

Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic will be battling to move further ahead of Aberdeen in the league table, with a triumph over European hopefuls St Johnstone in their latest league encounter.

Ronny Deila’s Bhoys, odds-on 2/5 favourites with Coral, have the opportunity to open up a six-point lead over title rivals Aberdeen with a victory at McDiarmid Park.

The Glasgow giants have been on a sensational run of league form since the turning of the New Year, incredibly securing five consecutive triumphs, scoring 12 times and keeping a clean sheet in all of those wins.

Deila’s dominant outfit are unbeaten this year in all competitions, and are evens to claim a sixth consecutive victory to nil, having conceded only 12 times in the Scottish top flight this campaign, boasting the best defensive record in the country.

The brilliant Bhoys will be extremely confident of overcoming Tommy Wright’s sixth-placed Saints, having not been beaten by their opponents since September 2012, winning five of their last six meetings.

This included a comfortable 3-0 away triumph last August, when Anthony Stokes helped fire Celtic to victory away from home. The in-form Irishman has netted seven top-flight strikes this term and is 7/2 to open proceedings this time out, having done so in the reverse fixture.

Mikael Lustig is ruled out of the game with an ankle injury, while forward Kris Commons is also set to miss out after picking up a thigh knock.

Although, Celtic clinched a simple 3-0 win over Partick Thistle in midweek, with their recent new signings Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong looking like suitable stand-ins for injured absentees after both netted in Wednesday’s win.

Impressive debutant Mackay-Steven is 5/1 to score first, after striking within a minute of his first Hoops appearance.

The home side, 13/2 to win, have been struggling lately, and have picked up three points on just one occasion in their previous six Scottish league outings, dropping to sixth in the process.

However, Wright’s men still remain in a European spot and will be quietly confident of causing an upset, with Celtic possibly having one eye on their upcoming Europa League clash with Inter Milan next week.

Last season, menacing midfielder Michael O’Halloran helped his side claim a 3-3 draw against the Scottish champions, and the Scot is available at 7/2 to net again anytime.

St Johnstone will need rallying, following a surprise defeat to Queen of the South in a fifth round Scottish Cup fixture last time out, which was their third away loss in four games on the road.

With Aberdeen not kicking-off until Sunday, the visitors will be aiming to pile pressure on their closest challengers by moving six points clear at the summit with a sixth win on the bounce.

After their latest league match, Celtic’s attention will turn to Roberto Mancini’s Serie A giants, and the battling Bhoys are 100/1 to claim a European coup this year.