Charlie Nicholas senses Celtic ‘vulnerability’ and labels Hearts ‘biggest threat’ to Treble hopes as Rangers dismissed

The Parkhead club are on course to complete a Treble this season after lifting the Viaplay Cup final last month.
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Charlie Nicholas has confessed Hearts pose the “biggest threat” to Celtic’s hopes of securing a Treble this season - insisting games against Old Firm rivals Rangers “take care of themselves.”

After lifting the first silverware of the campaign in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden last month, Ange Postecoglou’s league leaders are eyeing a clean sweep of domestic honours as they prepare for a crucial double header with the Jambos this week.

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Celtic sit nine points clear at the Premiership summit with just 11 games remaining, but Robbie Neilson’s side have the chance to put a major dent in the champions treble chances when they visit Parkhead on league duty on Wednesday night before a Scottish Cup quarter-final tie at Tynecastle on Saturday.

Hearts are aiming to finish third and reach the European group stages once more.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Hearts are aiming to finish third and reach the European group stages once more.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Hearts are aiming to finish third and reach the European group stages once more. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Third-placed Hearts maintain a five-point cushion over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian as they close in on European football for the second consecutive season and Nicholas believes they are capable of exploiting the Parkhead club’s weak points.

The former Hoops icon sensed a “vulnerability” about Celtic in the first half of their 5-1 win over St Mirren on Sunday and Nicholas claims he wouldn’t be surprised to see Hearts cause a stir as he played down Rangers prospects of winning silverware this term.

Writing in his Scottish Daily Express column, Nicholas said: “I think tackling Hearts this weekend is the biggest threat to Celtic’s treble hopes. Ange Postecoglou’s side already have the League Cup in the cabinet and I believe the league is already done and dusted.

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“Even if Celtic were to lose at home on Wednesday to Hearts I still can’t see Rangers catching them. But the Scottish Cup tie with Hearts is the most intriguing of them all. If Celtic can get through then they will see the treble in their sights although as long as Rangers remain in the competition then they will also fancy their chances of going all the way.

“Ange will be desperate to join the list of Celtic managers who have lifted a treble especially as he just missed out on it last season. You feel that Hearts are the type of team who on occasion can pull off a big result against Celtic or Rangers. The next two games are massive in the league and more so in the cup.

“I am not being disrespectful to Rangers here because the Old Firm games look after themselves but the fact they face Hearts in the cup makes it their biggest hurdle to date. I know Celtic beat St Mirren at the weekend but you could see there was still a vulnerability there especially in the first half before Stephen Robinson’s side went down to 10 men.

“You saw that with big Ange with his substitutions. St Mirren proved a point that you can get at Celtic. I am expecting something similar against Hearts. I expect Hearts to go full out. I think it will be physical and it could be a cold and unwelcoming night which could level things a bit. Robbie Neilson has done a great job at Hearts and quite rightly has received a lot of plaudits.

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“They are going to finish third in the league but they will be desperate for silverware. These next two games will definitely be two tremendous tests for Celtic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hearts were to nick a point in midweek and in the cup tie I could see it going to extra-time and Celtic just squeezing through.”

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