Ange Postecoglou gears up for “tough challenge” of 4th-placed Livingston

Celtic host fourth-placed Livingston

Celtic welcome Livingston to the East End of Glasgow on Wednesday night for the second time since returning to action following the World Cup break. The Hoops dispatched of Livi 2-1 on the first occasion in mid-December thanks to an Ayo Obileye own goal and a close-range finish from Kyogo Furuhashi.

A similar outcome underneath the lights tonight would see Celtic consolidate their lead at the top of the table and inch closer to another title.

Since losing his first encounter with Livingston at the start of last season, Ange Postecoglou is now unbeaten in four games against the West Lothian outfit and has guided the Hoops to three straight wins against Wednesday’s opponents.

However, speaking at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, Postecoglou was quick to talk up the merits of the visitors and spoke with authority that hints that the Australian will not allow complacency to creep in to Celtic’s approach.

It’s a tough game and a tough challenge. When you play Livingston it’s always a good challenge, they’re in good form and they’re having an outstanding season.”

After a solid victory at Tannadice at the weekend, that saw Jota return to something like his best, the Celtic support will be expecting the side to kick-on and extend the current winning streak in the league to five games.

Martindale’s musings

In the opposing dugout, David Martindale, who has previous for making life difficult for Celtic in the past, will be out to put a dent in the home side’s title charge.

Known for favouring a low block and setting his sides up to frustrate, the Livi manager will likely look to turn the game into as much of a physical contest as he can and aim to stop Celtic’s flair players from playing.

Martindale raised a few eyebrows at the beginning of the week with his claim that Livingston are the pounds-per-points champions of Scotland. Martindale may be able to back up his unusual view, but a quick glance at the league table tells a different story with Celtic sitting top with twice as many points as Livingston.

However, maybe we’re better off taking a leaf out of our very own Lawrence Connolly’s book and ignoring these comments as, after all, “Eagles don’t fight with sparrows.”

How will Ange line up?

While the defence largely picks itself these days, there was good debate on Tuesday’s Celtic State of Mind Bulletin over who pulls on the Celtic jerseys in midfield and up front.

Liam Carrigan (our regular guest from Celtic Down Under) suggested that Tomoki Iwata could make his first start for the club and add some extra steel to the midfield to help match up against Livingston’s physical style, while Lawrence put forward David Turnbull as a potential starter should Ange decide to change up the midfield.

But the bigger debate was over who should get the nod to fill the wide attacking berths with some interesting points raised.

A return to the starting eleven for Sead Hakšabanović was mooted by James McKenzie while Liam made the case for a recall to the side for Maeda, citing the Japanese forward’s pace and movement as a means of stretching the Livi backline.

Of course, Ange could always stick with the front three of Jota, Kyogo, and Abada who started against United at the weekend, such is the wealth of options available.

Sticking my neck on the line, here’s my predicted XI:

Kevin McCluskie

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