Celtic vs Hearts Preview: Both sides looking to maintain momentum
The two sides meet for the first time since last season's Scottish Cup final. Photo by Mark Runnacles/GettyImages.

Celtic and Hearts meet in Glasgow on Sunday with both sides coming off the back of much-needed victories. 

Hearts travel to Celtic Park following a creditable Betfred Cup win at Motherwell, while the home side goes into the game buoyed by an impressive Europa League victory against AIK of Sweden.

While Celtic will be looking to continue their flying start to the SPFL, the Tynecastle side will be hoping to kick-start their league season.


While both sides have won their most recent match, neither has impressed much in the past couple of weeks.

Celtic started their SPFL campaign with two crushing victories over St Johnstone and Motherwell, but then crashed out of the Champions League to Cluj and struggled to get past Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup.

Hearts, meanwhile, staggered through their Betfred Cup group and took a single point from their opening two league encounters against Aberdeen and Ross County. Both sides will have been glad to record their most recent victories.

Ones to watch

While it’s unusual to include a goalkeeper in this section, Fraser Forster’s return to Celtic Park is big news. Forster told BBC Sport that manager Neil Lennon was a major factor in returning to the club, stating that “I absolutely love playing for him and working for him. He really instils that belief in me”.

However, while Scott Bain is out injured, it remains far from certain that Forster will start ahead of Craig Gordon. The first name on the team sheet on Sunday will be one to watch with interest. Forster added that "Celtic are blessed with some very good keepers but to be at a club of this nature and this size, you're always going to have good competition.

While Hearts’ young players - in particular, 17-year-old defender Aaron Hickey - continue to catch the eye, it’s a player more than twice Hickey’s age who will be in the spotlight on Sunday. 35-year-old Irish debutant Glenn Whelan brings several years of English Premiership and international experience to the club, and will not be phased by the Celtic Park atmosphere. Expect Whelan and fellow new signing Loic Damour to add experience and muscle to the Hearts midfield. 

Team news

Celtic are missing Scott Bain in goal, but have the aforementioned Forster and Bain to choose from. With next week’s vital return leg in Stockholm to come, Neil Lennon may choose to rest players, so Olivier Ntcham may come in for James Forrest. In addition, despite Mikey Johnston’s hugely impressive recent performances, Lennon may not be able to resist giving Leigh Griffiths a start against old adversaries Hearts. 

For the visitors, long-term absentees Ben Garuccio and Peter Haring will probably be joined by the key pair of Steven Naismith and John Souttar. Souttar has yet to recover from a knock sustained against Aberdeen, while talisman Naismith is still not at full fitness. Aaron Hickey returns from suspension. 

Predicted line-ups:

Celtic: Forster, Ajer, Jullien, Simunovic, Bolingoli-Mbombo, Ntcham, Brown, McGregor, Christie, Edouard, Griffiths

Hearts: Pereira, M Smith, Halkett, Berra, Hickey, Whelan, Irving, Clare, Damour, Mulraney, Washington

Match details

The match takes place on Sunday, August 25th at Celtic Park. Kick-off time is 3:00 PM and the game is available to watch on both Celtic TV and Hearts TV for subscribers outside the UK and Ireland.