Celtic and Hibernian are gearing up for their third meeting already this season, and that looks like being a prospect that the Hoops will enjoy far more than their Edinburgh rivals.
On Wednesday, Celtic put a shaky first-half display behind them to annihilate Hibs 4-1 in their Scottish League Cup quarter-final match at Easter Road, adding to their 2-0 win at the same ground on the opening day of the SPL season back in July.
With Halloween just a few days away, Hibs will be less scared about the ghosts and ghouls than they will be about the prospect of facing former striker Anthony Stokes again.
Since his switch from Easter Road to Celtic Park, Stokes has practically patented the aptly seasonal phrase ‘coming back to haunt your old club’.
Wednesday night’s success was Celtic’s seventh straight victory against the Hibees, with Stokes having played in five of those and scored five times, finding the net in all of the previous four meetings between the sides.
All of Celtic’s goals [in the midweek win over Hibs] came in the second half and you can get odds of 6/5 on them scoring more goals after the interval than before it again on Saturday.
It is little wonder that Celtic are as short as 1/5 with bwin to win the match, while Hibs are rank outsiders at 25/2 and the draw is priced at 19/4.
With Stokes looking to slay his former team once again, and with Celtic’s big Wednesday win in mind, the best chance of success in this one is predicting a Halloween nightmare for Hibernian.
Celtic are 19/4 in the multiple score market to win 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0, while they are 14/1 to repeat their midweek scoreline of 4-1.
All of Celtic’s goals in that match came in the second half and you can get odds of 6/5 on them scoring more goals after the interval than before it again on Saturday.
Hibs’ win over St Mirren last Saturday has seen them reach the dizzy heights of ninth in the SPL table, but they are unlikely to be troubled by vertigo for too long on this occasion.
In Garry O’Connor they have an undoubted talent, but the Scotland striker has only found the net twice against Celtic in a Hibs career that is now into its seventh season.
Even facing a Celtic defence that looks about as convincing as a trick or treater with a sheet over his head, he is unlikely to get much change on Saturday.
Hibs are 15/4 to score the first goal and given that they pulled off that trick on Wednesday, it might be worth a shout to back them to spook Celtic early on, but that’s about as good as it is likely to get for them.
But heck, it’s Halloween, and who knows what unearthly powers might be at work in Glasgow on Saturday?
Hibs have scored three times in three of their last five SPL games and you can get odds of 22/1 on them winning again on Saturday with more than 2.5 goals being scored in the game. Staking your free £25 bet for joining bwin.com on this outcome would return a whopping £575.
I guess it all boils down to whether you want a trick or a treat on Saturday evening. If you want a treat, put your money on Stokes and Celtic, but if you fancy a bit of a trick, why not take a punt on Hibs?
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