09 November 2020 18:35
Rangers may be nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership but nobody is writing off Celtic quite yet. The Hoops have been in stuttering form this season and have given the impression of a team yet to find their mojo. And while there has been a lot of noise and conjecture about the future of Neil Lennon amid poor European results and indifferent league from, if they win their two games in hand they will only lie three points adrift of Steven Gerrard's table-toppers. Given Celtic's squad is filled to the brim with winners who have been over the course before and know what it takes to win a Scottish Premiership, there's a sense that they will come good at some stage. Lennon was under similar pressure last season when his side lost the derby at the turn of the year but he refocused his troops and went on to win the title at a canter.
While Rangers' challenge inexplicably faded after the winter break last year, you get no sense that there will be a repeat this term. While their challenge is real and Rangers are leading from the front, Celtic are still the benchmark, and a side that is a cup final away from completing a 12th trophy on the spin is not to be dismissed lightly. Both have tough games to come that will challenge their aspirations and although they have tended to take care of domestic opponents with relative ease this year, the strain of going for 10 In A Row or stopping it could throw up some wild results. A visit to Easter Road is never easy and despite a loss to Aberdeen on Friday, Jack Ross' side are an improved unit this season. Rangers struggled to cope and had to make do with a 2-2 draw and there's every chance Celtic could also be given a hard time in Leith.
A tough away game to face on the back of a derby match, Gerrard could be under serious pressure for this one depending on how results fall. His side were excellent in a 1-0 win on the opening day of the season but will know that Aberdeen are much improved since then and can throw a spanner in the works. Don't expect pretty football to be the order of the day here as both teams fight it out for the three points. Only one team's players have actually scored against Rangers this season - Hibs. Rangers will want revenge and Gerrard will demand his players prove lessons have been learned in what is sure to be a tasty match-up.
Celtic will have to win the battle before they can contemplate playing any football and will look to start the game with a bang to extinguish Killie's hopes. Celtic have an excellent record at home to Aberdeen but if the Dons keep up their current form they will always be a threat. Dundee United vs Celtic 06/03/21 Another game where the corresponding fixture points to potential pitfalls. Celtic vs Rangers 20/03/21 John Barnes believes Rangers are starting to show the signs of champions - but the former Celtic manager still feels that his former side will land the title this campaign. Steven Gerrard's Light Blues strolled to victory over Hamilton yesterday and last week ground out an important 1-0 win over Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership. Gers are currently nine points clear at the top of Scotland's top flight and Barnes has been impressed by what he has seen. It doesn't matter if you're not playing your best but if you can walk away from that game with another 3 points - that's work well done! "In some instances, knowing that a team isn't performing in a way they could, or should do, but still win, that shows signs of a champion. "It's all about the points and this season, for Rangers to stop Celtic winning the 10-in-a-row. And I must say, Rangers are looking really strong this season." Barnes feels that having no crowds at games has helped Rangers, while also believing that it has hindered his former team. He continued: "Rangers found that much needed consistency from day one this season - something Celtic have struggled with. Lockdown has affected teams differently and I do think that Celtic have suffered, which has resulted in some unusual patterns. "The fact they've dropped points is unusual for a team such as Celtic, probably more unusual than Rangers doing really well. You'd expect Rangers to be where they are, but you wouldn't expect Celtic to have dropped as many points or to have been so inconsistent. But it's early days and plenty of time for them to make up the points. Barnes added: "As for points vs games in hand; points on the board is always better because they're there. "Celtic should win their games in hand, they'll still be three points behind Rangers. And of course they're going to play them three more times. Join thousands of fans who have signed up to our Rangers newsletter. And the midfielder will link up with former Rangers pal Kenny Miller who is assistant manager at the A-League club. And he's penned a two-year deal with the ambitious Sydney side, where ex- Rangers and Scotland team mate Miller is No.2 to manager Carl Robinson. Dorrans said: "I'm delighted to be coming over and grateful for the opportunity to play for the club. "After speaking with the manager and hearing the vision he has for the club and the way he wants to play I think it's a brand of football that really suits my game. (Image: SNS Group) "It's a league I have watched from a distance and really enjoyed watching it so I'm looking forward to getting over and starting as soon as I can. He said: "Graham is a fantastic professional and has played at the top-level in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership for over a decade. "We look forward to welcoming Graham to Western Sydney and adding his experience, leadership and know-how to our squad. Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images Steve Robinson has paid tribute to an 'excellent' Celtic side after Mohamed Elyounoussi scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 4-1 Scottish Premiership win at Fir Park, while speaking to the Daily Record. After a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague that has left their terminal Europa League hopes on life support, Neil Lennon's struggling Celtic responded with a much-needed win at Motherwell; just their second in seven games. Celtic were not quite at their flowing best – with Robinson insisting that Motherwell had their chances and 'dominated' large spells on Sunday – but this was a fine response from a side with one hell of a point to prove. They have excellent footballers and took their chances when they got them," Robinson said at full-time. Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images I just thought we were facing a very good Celtic side and, for large periods, we controlled the game. Just like in last week's Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen, the game was far less comfortable than the score-line suggests. If Motherwell had been a little more careful in the final third – like the Dons seven days earlier – then it could have panned out very differently at Fir Park. As Robinson adds, a Motherwell team swept aside in a 5-1 defeat to Rangers in September found life a lot easier against Celtic. "It was night and day (from the Rangers loss).