With ten games remaining in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic’s lead at the top now looks secure. Despite the disappointment of Brendan Rodgers’ departure to Leicester, the Bhoys have maintained their eight-point lead over Rangers.
There is still much to play for at both ends of the division, with clubs looking to make a late surge into the top three and avoid falling off the pace at the bottom.
Here are some of the standout fixtures from matchday 29.
Celtic vs Aberdeen
It looked for a long time like it would be frustration for Neil Lennon on his return to Celtic. His side had been held by a stubborn ten-man Hearts for most of the second half. But Odsonne Edouard stepped up in injury time to spark wild celebrations on the touchline.
That late win meant Celtic’s lead at the top is still eight points and took the pressure off a difficult home game this weekend. Third-placed Aberdeen are the visitors at Celtic Park on Saturday, looking to boost their chances of European football next season.
Derek McInnes’ side fell to a shock home defeat against Hamilton Academical in their last league outing, so they will be determined to bounce back from that disappointment. And they may be feeling quietly confident. Aberdeen have the best away record in the division, with eight wins and only three defeats from 13 games on their travels so far.
Unfortunately for them, Celtic are imperious at home. The Bhoys have won all 14 of their games at Celtic Park this season, scoring 41 goals and conceding just five.
Hibernian vs Rangers
Rangers know they can afford no more slip-ups if they are to catch leaders Celtic. Only a few weeks ago, after Steven Gerrard’s side had beaten their fierce rivals in the Old Firm derby, a first league title in eight years looked a real possibility.
Since then, though, Celtic have pulled away, leaving Rangers to rue dropped points against Kilmarnock and St Johnstone.
There is faint hope that Rodgers’ exit could disrupt Celtic, although Neil Lennon got off to an ideal start with a late win against Hearts last week.
It leaves Rangers’ hopes of closing the gap looking increasingly dim. The main aim for Gerrard and his players, ahead of Friday night’s trip to Hibernian, will be to tighten their grip on second place.
They head into their visit of Easter Road in confident mood, on the back of two big wins over relegation-threatened Hamilton and Dundee. Hibs, meanwhile, still have aspirations of a top four finish. Paul Heckingbottom’s side have won their last three league games and find themselves just six points behind Kilmarnock.
The away side will be favourites for this one, but they should be wary of the threats posed by an in-form Hibs outfit.
Dundee vs Hearts
Two teams fighting at opposite ends of the table meet at Dens Park on Saturday. Dundee, who have struggled desperately for points all season, know that a win here would see them move, at least temporarily, four points clear of bottom side St Mirren.
Wins, though, have proved hard to come by at home for Jim McIntyre’s side this season. Dundee have won just once on their own patch and will be fully aware of the need to improve on that record if they are to avoid relegation.
Dundee’s opposition on Saturday have problems of their own. Hearts have been in inconsistent form since the turn of the year and have not won in their last four league games. Falling to a late defeat against Celtic was another blow for Craig Levein and his players, although they remain well placed in fifth, six points behind third-placed Aberdeen.
Dundee will perhaps be more confident, though, having beaten Hearts at Tynecastle Park in January. A repeat of that performance will give them a chance on Saturday.
St Mirren vs Kilmarnock
Another battle between top and bottom, Monday night’s game between St Mirren and Kilmarnock is a big one for both sides.
The hosts, having taken five points from their last three, have given themselves a chance of moving off the bottom of the league. When St Mirren fell to a 1-2 defeat against Motherwell early last month, they were six points off tenth-placed Hamilton and three behind Dundee.
The gap to Hamilton is now just four points, while Dundee sit a point better off than St Mirren. Relegation no longer looks a certainty.
Oran Kearney’s side will know, though, that they must maintain their good run of form if they are to move clear of the drop zone. They face a Kilmarnock side in poor form, without a win in eight games in all competitions.
The visitors are in danger of falling out of contention for third place, so a win on Monday night is crucial.
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