St Johnstone vs CelticScottish Premiership, KO: 19:45 Jan 29, 2020, McDiarmid Park
IT'S advantage Celtic in the title race after Rangers blinked first at Tynecastle but the Hoops now face their own tricky away day at McDiarmid Park.
I fancied Rangers to beat Hearts on Sunday but they crashed to a 2-1 defeat, leaving Celtic five points clear at the top, having played a game more.
Neil Lennon's side were far from convincing at home to Ross County on Saturday but recovered from a poor first half to win 3-0. Now they head to Perth for the first of four away games in a row.
St Johnstone also won at the weekend as a 2-1 triumph over freefalling Kilmarnock lifted them up to eighth, six points clear of Hearts at the bottom.
But McDiarmid Park is far from a happy camp, with manager Tommy Wright publicly ripping into the Saints board for tying his hands in the transfer market.
He even claimed the club should change his title to ‘head coach' because he was having no say in signing players so it would be a surprise if they took anything from the champions.
Celtic have won their last six games against Wright's side with an aggregate score of 23-0 and after that slip-up by Rangers they will be determined to keep hold of their lead at the top.
How the bookies view it
St Johnstone are rank outsiders at a best 10/1 with Betfair while the draw is 21/4. Celtic are a best 3/10 with Coral and after keeping a clean sheet in their last eight games against Saints, plenty of punters will fancy a Hoops win to nil at 6/5 with Unibet.
However, Lennon's defence conceded at Kilmarnock on their last road trip and handed Ross County a series of chances that they wasted at the weekend. So I'll be doubling a Hoops win with both teams to score at 9/5 with BetVictor.
Recent head to head
McDiarmid Park has been a happy hunting ground of late for Celtic, who have won on their last six visits. In four of those victories they scored four goals or more and the highlight was a 6-0 thrashing in October 2018 (below).
St Johnstone last win over the Parkhead side came in 2016 when they won 2-1 in Perth. Since then, the best they have managed against Celtic is a couple of draws in Glasgow.
Players to watch
Celtic were transformed when the rested Odsonne Edouard came off the bench at the weekend, with the Frenchman taking his tally for the season to 20 with a double.
But Edouard is 4/5 with most firms to net here and that's too short for me. Instead, I'll try James Forrest, who made his return from injury at the weekend.
The winger netted four goals in that 6-o win in Perth and has six in his last five games against St Johnstone. He's 7/4 with Betway for anytime scorer here and that's good value.
Saints have lost some firepower with the sale of winger Matty Kennedy to Aberdeen and their best hope for a goal here is probably Stevie May. The former Dons striker is 4/1 with Paddy Power to get on the scoresheet.
Anything else catch the eye?
It ended 7-0 to Celtic when these sides last met and the Hoops have been scoring freely on their recent visits to Perth. So the 11/10 BetVictor are offering on over 2.5 goals for Lennon's side looks good value.
Former Rangers midfielder Jason Holt will be up against Scott Brown in midfield and that could be a tasty battle. It will be worth checking the odds on each player for a card once the bookies price up that market.
This Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic will be played on Jan 29, 2020 and kick off at 19:45