We’ve had no favours since our last league match in the 0-0 draw at home to Livingston. The latest of those was yesterday’s Hearts defeat, so we are still five points from the title. That means the league won’t be won today, but victory at Easter Road would nicely set up the opportunity to win it at home next weekend against Kilmarnock.
Personally, I much prefer doing it ourselves anyway, in front of our own supporters.
But with the gap now down to just eight points, you can bet there is still hope across the city that we can collapse and let them back into a title race. They’ll be hoping for a home win today and actually the form of Hibernian since new manager Paul Heckingbottom has come in will give them great encouragement.
Since taking over on February 13th, Hibernian have taken twenty points from a possible twenty four in the league. The dropped points were two draws, meaning they haven’t lost a league match since their trip to Celtic Park where goals from Ryan Christie and Oliver Burke gave us a 2-0 win.
It’s true that most of those games came against the bottom six, but the draws were against top six teams and their most recent victory was a win at Tynecastle – something Hibernian hadn’t done in six years.
Heckingbottom has come in and turned around a season that seemed to be slipping away from Hibernian. Earlier this season, Neil Lennon was in charge as they went from being early title contenders with their city rivals, to a team who may not even make the top six. Heckingbottom ensured that, and will now have further goals in mind
If Celtic win the Scottish Cup then a fourth place finish in the League has a European spot next season. Hibernian are just six points behind Kilmarnock in fourth, so a win today for them makes that a very achievable goal. Indeed, Aberdeen just three points further ahead isn’t impossible either, at which point Hibernian only want us to win the Scottish Cup because they clearly don’t want their city rivals to do do!
But there is one major thing in our favour today. For all Heckingbottom is unbeaten in the league with Hibernian, he does have one defeat to his name. That came at the start of a March in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup, and was the end of a very difficult week for Celtic. Of course that one defeat would come courtesy of their former manager.
Our 2-0 win that day came thanks to goals from James Forrest and Scott Brown. Our previous visit to Easter Road this season also saw a victory for Lennon’s team, but of course he was Hibernian manager back in December! A horrible start had us a goal down inside a minute, and we never really recovered. A second goal on the hour mark sealed our fate that day and Hibernian ensured that our previous manager would never manage a win at Easter Road.
Today will see a Celtic team who want to finish sealing a league title soon, and coming off the back of a very good performance at just the right time last week, taking on a confident Hibernian team coming off the back of a terrific derby victory and a weekend off.
We want this title done and dusted, but doing that will not be easy. We need another good performance today, and hopefully now we’ve seen one like we had at Hampden last week, we can get another now.
Krys (Twitter @krys1888)