THE heat is back on Neil Lennon after Celtic’s Euro horror show against Sparta Prague and he can ill afford a repeat when the Hoops face Motherwell on Sunday.
It looked like the champions had turned a corner last weekend with their impressive win over Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
But instead they wandered down another dead end with some schoolboy defending helping Sparta romp to a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
Lennon vowed to make amends at Fir Park and it’s a game his side simply have to win after falling nine points adrift of bitter rivals Rangers.
With two games in hand it would be premature to write off Celtic’s chances even if they crash at Fir Park.
But a defeat would pile pressure on Lennon, with fed-up fans quickly losing faith as they sense a potentially historic season descending into disaster.
In-form Motherwell are capable of punishing Lennon’s dismal defence and it would be ironic if Tony Watt piled the pressure on his old boss.
It was Watt who sealed the greatest triumph of Lennon’s coaching career when he came off the bench to score against Barcelona back in 2012.
His career has never hit the same heights since then but the striker looks settled at Fir Park and has scored in his last two games for the Steelmen.
Watt is 4-1 at Paddy Power for anytime scorer and that’s worth a punt if Shane Duffy and Nir Bitton repeat their shambolic Sparta showing.
I’m wary of backing a winner as it all depends on the kind of reaction Lennon gets from his players. Some punters might fancy a punt on Well at 13-2 with McBookie while the draw pays 15-4 and a Hoops win is 2-5.
Over 3.5 match goals also appeals at 8-5 with McBookie while I also like the look of the 6-4 on offer at the same firm for there to be over one goal in the first half.
Lennon will probably ring the changes to send a message to his squad and I wouldn’t be surprised if Albian Ajeti started up front.
Rangers also suffered Euro heartache on Thursday as they allowed 10-man Benfica to snatch a 3-3 draw by throwing away a two-goal lead.
Having shipped just four goals all season it was a big surprise to see Gers let things slip in Portugal but normal service should be resumed when Hamilton come calling tomorrow.
Accies caused a major shock last season by winning at Ibrox but have been poor this term so a repeat is highly unlikely, with Brian Rice’s men as big as 22-1 at McBookie.
Steven Gerrard’s leaders offer little value at 1-10 with the same firm but another Premiership win to nil is better at 4-6 with Genting.
Hamilton have conceded nine goals in their last two games so it could pay to back Gers to rack up a few here. Over 3.5 goals for Gerrard’s men pays 5-4 at Betway while the same firm offer 6-4 on Gers netting in the first 15 minutes.
Gerrard will make some changes after the trip to Portugal and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cedric Itten or Jermain Defoe started up front.
The veteran Englishman doesn’t offer great value at 8-15 with McBookie for a goal but Itten is a little bit better at 8-11.
For more value try midfielder Ianis Hagi who is 6-4 for anytime scorer at BetVictor.
- Motherwell v Celtic over one first-half goal (12 noon)
- (6-4, McBookie)
- Rangers to score in first 15 minutes (3pm)
- (6-4, Betway)
Anytime scorer double
- Watt & Ajeti
- (10-1, Paddy Power)