Celtic predicted XI as Maeda and Giakoumakis BOTH start in out the box Tony Mac approach

Delighted Ange Postecoglou will know his Celtic record since the last time he visited the Tony Macaroni Arena is something to be celebrated.

He’s accrued 19 wins and four draws in the 23 Premiership clashes – that’s title winning form in almost any season and all three points against Livingston on Sunday will put them in a great spot.

It would have them three clear of Rangers with a better goal difference heading into the final nine games.

But a day of high drama packed with nerve-shredding tension could well lie in wait.

Celtic haven’t won in five consecutive league visits to West Lothian – and have often looked ill-equipped for the physical demands and low block that David Martindale masterminds.

Postecoglou’s side were a pale imitation earlier in the season to the one you see now, with Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers still being bedded in and Callum McGregor absent.

Despite the incredible numbers in terms of their recent domestic record, no team is without fault.

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That has been evident in the previous clashes with Livi and the goalless bore draws away to St Mirren and Hibs.

It involves forcing the league leaders wide that makes them float balls into the box, this is something SPFL teams know how to stop.

But there’s two signs of optimism for Celtic ahead of the game today – imposing Greek forward Giorgos Giakoumakis will start and Celtic know have already road-tested a tweak to their formation with a 3-5-2 against St Johnstone.

RecordSport runs the rule over a potential starting XI with a twist which would reap rewards against Livi.

It’s a no-brainer as joe hart is the obvious choice between the sticks as his career resurgence continues.

The back three, yes, a back three, could be Liam Scales , Cameron Carter Vickers and Carl Starfelt the trio did well together on Boxing Day, with only the Swede’s singular gaffe letting the unit down.

That would allow for a pair of wing backs to charge forward, if we’re thinking outside the box then daizen maeda on the left would provide the defensive energy of Greg Taylor would bring while delivering an attacking intent like Jota. Josip Juranović was exceptional at McDiarmid Park playing this role on the right.

The Celtic starting XI with a difference

Nir Bitton isn’t for every occasion but he is really good at moving the ball at pace when he’s on form. The Israeli as the pivot would allow Callum McGregor to step up to a position and replace Reo Hatate. The Japanese international was poor against St Mirren and has been used for a few weeks. Tom Rogic looked strong off the bench on Wednesday and could start ahead of Matt O’Riley.

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This switch to a 3-5-2 allows Liel Abada to play through the middle, many observers believe that’s his best role and he and Giakoumakis have the makings of an exciting little and large double act.

Postecoglou will have given this one thought and, in fairness, it’s likely his traditional 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3 will have joy with Giakoumakis back.

But, perhaps, a genuine shift in how he lines up can both reap rewards and give David Martindale something to think about in return.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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