The Scottish Premiership season kicks off this weekend as the top flight in Scotland gets its new campaign underway. The Scottish Premiership went on hiatus in March and chose not to restart in June. Rather, the league’s clubs and executives decided to wait for the new season in August.
Celtic were crowned champions of the 2019-20 season having been ahead of the chasing pack by a large margin. Now, Neil Lennon’s team will hope to get off to a good start as they chase another Scottish top-flight crown. One of the big differences between the start of this season and previous years, is that Celtic have not started their European qualifying campaign. Without having the additional games to play, the Hoops could start faster and stronger than in prior terms.
The Hoops’ first opponent will be Hamilton who arrive at Parkhead on Sunday. Like Celtic, Hamilton were able to complete 30 games of their 2019-20 season. The clubs’ final table ranking in the Scottish Premiership came thanks to points per game. While Celtic finished top of the table, Hamilton finished 11th and just edged Hearts for safety. Hamilton finished with 0.90 points per game compared to Hearts 0.77. The Accies are sportsbooks’ favourite to finish at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table.
Celtic had both the best attack and best defence in 2019-20. They posted an incredible +70-goal difference after scoring 89 times and allowing just 19 strikes against. Lennon’s side are once again heavy favourites to win the Scottish Premiership, according to leading sportsbooks. It is believed that they will once again stroll to the title.
Hamilton manager Brian Rice will hope to throw a spanner in the works for week 1 in the Scottish Premiership. The Accies lost all three matches against Celtic last term, but did keep the games close. Celtic outscored Hamilton 7-2 over the course of three games but it wasn’t until their third meeting a Parkhead that Celtic were able put more than two goals past Hamilton. Two of the three games saw both teams score and over 2.5 goals scored.
Both clubs have hurriedly play friendlies to get ready for the campaign. Celtic started their preseason poorly going winless in their initial three friendlies against Nice, Lyon, and Paris Saint-Germain. Since losing to PSG, Celtic have won against Ross County and Hibernian. Hamilton head into the season having drawn 2-2 with Motherwell in their most recent friendly match.
Due to leagues restarting and finishing out their campaigns in England and elsewhere, Celtic have not dipped into the transfer market this offseason. The Covid-19 pandemic and its financial effects could prevent Celtic from doing much work in the transfer market. Lennon was able to renew the loan of Mohamed Elyounoussi from Southampton. The midfielder will play once more at Parkhead this season after performing well last campaign.
Celtic will once again look to striker Odsonne Edouard to bang in goals this season. He was so important to Celtic’s attack last term scoring 21 goals and assisting 12 goals in 27 league appearances. There are chances that Edouard could move away from the club before the transfer window close. Arsenal are linked with a move for the striker as the futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are both uncertain.
Hamilton will hope to throw a spanner in the works in Celtic’s first game of their 10th title in a row bid. The club have made a few signings and could make even more as the transfer window remains open slightly longer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Accies signed midfielders Ross Callachan and Charlie Trafford in July. Rice will hope Greek striker Marios Ogboe can score more goals than last season’s six. Ogboe was Hamilton’s leading scorer. The 25-year-old averaged a goal every 232 minutes for the Accies.
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The first match of the season for both clubs could see them attempting to find their feet. Two of the three games between Celtic and Hamilton last season saw both teams score goals. They played just once at Parkhead with Celtic winning 2-1. Although Celtic kept the lowest number of goals in the Scottish Premiership last season, they could be guilty of poor defending on matchday 1.
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Two of the three games between these teams last season saw over 2.5 goals tallied. Hamilton had a poor defence conceding 50 goals. They allowed 1.7 goals per match last season while Celtic scored an average of 3.0 goals per match. Celtic should kick off their season well with goals flying in at Parkhead on Sunday.
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Odsonne Edouard scored 21 goals last season in the Scottish Premiership. He added 12 assists to the cause helping Celtic win a ninth Premiership title in a row. He contributed to one-third of all Celtic goals last season when goals plus assists are taken into account. If Celtic lose Edouard to a transfer, then the club will take a massive hit. However, the Hoops will be able to rebound and challenge for a 10th title.
As tends to happen in Scotland, the race for the Premiership title will be a two-horse race. Celtic are the favourites with Rangers coming in second. Rangers are a close second in odds to win the league according to sportsbooks. From there, the odds increase rather steeply with Aberdeen being the third-favourites to lift the title. Of course, any Scottish football expert will now Aberdeen have no chance of overthrowing the Old Firm.
Celtic do not have the matchday 1 challenge that Rangers do against Aberdeen. It could be a double win for the Hoops as they should win against Hamilton with ease. Rangers, on the other hand, could slip up against the Dons.
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The ground that will host Celtic vs Hamilton on Sunday afternoon is Celtic Park.
The game kicks-off at 16:30 on Sunday 2nd August.