Celtic vs St JohnstoneScottish Premiership, KO: 15:00 Aug 26, 2023, Celtic Park
BRENDAN RODGERS' Parkhead return hasn't gone to plan so far but his Celtic side should keep up their perfect start to the SPFL Premiership campaign when struggling St Johnstone come calling.
In the Irishman's first stint as Hoops boss it took 69 games before he suffered a domestic defeat and he collected seven trophies out of seven before upsetting fans by jumping ship for Leicester City.
But this time around his first defeat to a Scottish side has come just three matches in and that 1-0 League Cup loss at Kilmarnock last weekend has ended hopes of another Treble.
I thought Celtic would find it tough at Rugby Park after Killie's impressive start to the season but their lack of threat up front was a major surprise and Rodgers' injury-hit defence conceded for the third game in a row to seal their fate.
Alarm bells are ringing ahead of next week's trip to Ibrox and Rodgers will be hoping star men such as Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate are back in contention for the first derby of the season.
Celtic are fortunate they have a home game against the team sitting bottom of the table as they bid to recover from that Kilmarnock calamity and St Johnstone could hardly have made a worse start to the campaign.
Defeats to lower-league sides Stenhousemuir, Ayr United and Stirling Albion saw them crash out of the League Cup at the group stage and Saints have followed that up with losses to Hearts and Ross County in the SPFL Premiership.
Injuries to key players haven't helped Steven MacLean's cause and St Johnstone now have a tough run of fixtures that sees them take on both sides of the Old Firm either side of a Tayside derby with Dundee.
And if they lose all three games then it will leave MacLean and his players with a huge mountain to climb if they want to avoid another nerve-shredding battle against relegation.
How the bookies view it
St Johnstone's dismal start to the season sees them installed as rank outsiders and they're a whopping 55/1 at Betfair. Celtic's best price is just 1/16 at Coral while the draw pays 16/1 at LiveScoreBet.
Recent head to head
You have to go all the way back to 2016 for St Johnstone's last win against Celtic and they've lost nine in a row against the Hoops since battling to a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in 2020. Their last two trips to the east end of Glasgow have ended in 7-0 and 4-1 defeats.
Players to watch
Tipping David Turnbull for a goal backfired for me last week after Rodgers left him on the bench and handed a full debut to Odin Thiago Holm instead. With that uncertainty in midfield, I'm going for a Celtic forward this time and Liel Abada appeals at 5/4 with William Hill after emerging as a regular starter under the returning Hoops boss.
St Johnstone are leaning heavily on Stevie May for inspiration up front with the likes of Chris Kane and Nicky Clark out injured. The veteran has one goal to his name so far this term and is 17/2 at Unibet for anytime scorer.
Anything else catch the eye?
Celtic continue to look vulnerable at the back and it will be interesting to see who plays alongside new boy Gustaf Lagerbielke at centre-back with Maik Nawrocki joining the list of crocks by picking up a knock at Rugby Park. If the champions were facing anyone other than Saints then BTTS would appeal at 11/5 with Betway. But MacLean's struggling side have drawn blanks in four of their six games this term so a Hoops win to nil is just 8/15 with BetVictor.
I'd expect St Johnstone to set up to frustrate and that makes corners a good option. Over 8.5 Celtic corners pays 11/5 with Unibet and I like the 7/5 Bet365 are offering on over five first-half flag kicks.
St Johnstone midfielder Daniel Phillips is always good value for a card and he amassed nine yellows and a red in just 23 appearances last term. Phillips has continued in the same vein this term with two cards from four outings so I fancy him for another here at 6/5 with Bet365.
This Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and St Johnstone will be played on Aug 26, 2023 and kick off at 15:00. Check below for our tipsters best Celtic vs St Johnstone prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.