Charlie Nicholas believes that Joe Hart and the Celtic bench will ensure that the SPFL Premiership trophy remains in the east end of the city at the end of the new season.
At this stage of the season pundits all come out with their predictions for the new season with Celtic opening up on Sunday at home to Aberdeen in front of 60,000 fans and the Sky Sports cameras.
After dropping 10 points in their first seven matches of last season Ange Postecoglou’s squad stormed unbeaten to the title including back-to-back wins in the Glasgow derby as they finished the season four points clear.
Speaking to the Daily Express column, Nicholas said:
We are in for another exciting Premiership title race and I think Joe Hart could be the man to keep Celtic as Scotland’s No. 1.
Looking at the teams, I can see the former England keeper being the difference between Celtic and Rangers. Hart was a big player for Celtic last season and was as good as anybody. It will definitely be tight again because Rangers have strengthened, while Celtic are still in a position of strength.
I was at Celtic v Norwich and the Hoops played okay. Both teams have game-changers and match winners but it is defensively where I see Celtic having the edge and that is where Hart comes into play and makes the difference for me.
He was a big signing for Ange Postecoglou’s men last season and I reckon he will be the difference for Celtic again. Celtic are great going forward and will score goals.
The Celtic defence is still vulnerable at times and particularly down the left-hand side. I know Cameron Carter-Vickers will be important but I do think Hart will be key behind him.
Celtic will score a lot of goals but they have to try and limit chances and goals against at the other end. I think Hart can help them do that.
Against Aberdeen Postecoglou could start the match with a front three of James Forrest, Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda then finish the game with Liel Abada, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Jota.
A year ago Celtic started the season with Odsonne Edouard and Albian Ajeti as their striker options while Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain shared goalkeeping duties in the first three matches.
Postecoglou is still looking for a few additions to his squad to ensure that Nicholas gets this prediction right!