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Celtic’s Griffiths to continue sensational scoring form against Hearts

Robbie Purves | March 31, 2016

Celtic v Hearts

  • Scottish Premier League
  • Saturday, April 2nd
  • Kick Off: 12:30 BST
  • Celtic Park, Glasgow
  • Live on Sky Sports 2

Jambos to share spoils in Celtic clash

Hearts travel to Glasgow on Saturday to take on league leaders Celtic, as the Hoops look to extend their four-point league lead and can feel confident of victory because their Edinburg opposition have failed to win this fixture in 13 attempts.

A Bhoys victory will see Ronny Deila’s team go seven points clear of Aberdeen for 24 hours at least and pile pressure on the Dons. Hearts have impressed since their promotion back into the top-flight last year, however, and are the Scottish Premiership’s best of the rest in third.

Celtic's Tomas Rogic celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the Scottish Premiership at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh.

These two sides have drawn twice already this season, so Coral have them at 17/4 to share the spoils again.

Robbie Neilson’s men are coming off a 0-3 home drubbing to St Johnstone and look set for another tough game against their old rivals in a match that means a lot for both clubs.

The Jambos sit comfortably third and are coached by one of Scotland’s hottest managerial prospects. Former Hearts defender Neilson led the side to a record points total in the Championship, winning that division by a staggering 21 points.

A Hearts win would all but nail down a third place finish at least and secure a Europa League slot to boot, with a 13-point advantage over the Saints in fourth.

On the notion of finishing second, Neilson said: “We have still to play Aberdeen twice, so it’s definitely something we’re aiming for.”

Griffiths to continue fine form

Scoring machine Leigh Griffiths has netted an outstanding 35 in 44 games for Celtic this season, and is a huge reason why the Bhoys are clear table toppers.

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates in front hearts fans during the Scottish Premier League match at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh.

Former Hibernian fan favourite Griffiths has scored four against the Jambos since 2012 and is 9/4 to net first.

Hearts’ goal scoring threat comes in the form of Spanish forward Juanma. This excellent finisher has an impressive record for the Tynecastle club, netting 10 in 31 appearances since his move last summer and is 11/1 to score last at Celtic Park.

Bhoys dealt defence blow

Deila was dealt a devastating blow, as big money buy Jozo Simunovic was declared out for the season last week. The £5m Croatia international central defender will be greatly missed by the home defence, with Aberdeen chasing down the number one spot as crucial fixtures approach.

Celtic's Jozo Simunovic celebrates scoring against Dundee Utd during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Tannadice Park, Dundee.

This provides Hearts with a great chance to attack Celtic’s weakened backline and are 15/8 to score in a Celtic win.

Hearts will be boosted by the return of key defenders Igor Rossi and Alim Ozturk with manager Neilson commenting: “We go there absolutely looking to win.”

Celtic Park’s key battle

Griffiths often gets the headlines, but Colin Kazim-Richards does a lot of unseen work for Celtic and creates vital space in which his strike partner can operate. In order for Hearts to get anything out the game, they need to keep them quiet.

Hearts' Alim Ozturk (second right) celebrates as his goal during the Scottish Championship match at Easter Road, Edinburgh.

British-born Turkey international Kazim-Richards will be up against Jambos captain Alim Ozturk, with whom he has a shared heritage. The solid centre back has returned after a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, and Ozturk also missed three months of the season with a hip injury earlier in the campaign.

Heart’s inspirational skipper is the glue that holds the Edinburgh side’s defence together and, if he can nullify Griffiths and Kazim-Richard, then Neilson’s men have every chance grabbing a positive result. This young Jambos team visibly benefits from his presence on the field. The Tynecastle side are 28/1 to shut out Celtic and come away with an unlikely win.

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