The Scottish League Cup may have been decided this past weekend, and congrats to Celtic on their latest triumph, but there’s everything to play for in the Scottish Premiership as we near the halfway stage of the season.
At the summit, Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic are vying for top spot, with current champions Celtic commanding a two point lead.
Steven Gerrard has built a strong squad at Ibrox but they still need to show that they have the appetite to topple The Hoops when it really matters – so can they do it this term or will Neil Lennon guide his side to their ninth title in a row?
But it’s not all about the race for the title, battle for third place is also hotting up with a number of sides chasing a place in the Europa Leagu.
Aberdeen managed to return to that spot in recent weeks but they’ve since slipped up and Motherwell have recorded three straight wins and are now lying in third.
It was Kilmarnock who ended last term as the third placed team and after a difficult start to the Angelo Alessio era and Killie are now back in the race, sitting in fifth spot, some eight points behind The Well.
At the start of every campaign, most of the teams will look at a top six finish as being a success for the year and it’s Hibs who currently occupy this position.
They too had a disappointing start to the season but after sacking Paul Heckingbottom in early November, The Hibbees have seen an upturn in fortunes with Jack Ross taking charge at Easter Road.
The new boss has watched on as summer signing Christian Doidge has started to score regularly, he’s bagged seven goals in his last six outings.
Livingston and Ross County will be hoping that they can get enough victories to get them into the top six, sides that are currently four and five points behind Hibs respectively.
Both have been very impressive in some games but miserable in others and struggled to find the consistency needed to keep themselves in the top half of the table.
Livi striker Lyndon Dykes has been particularly impressive and his form has led to speculation that he could receive a Scotland call-up if he changes his international allegiance.
Livingston and Ross County will be hoping to look ahead for the remainder of the campaign but they’ll know that a few losses in a row could see them enter a relegation dogfight.
Speaking of which, I think the Premiership’s current bottom four clubs are still the ones at most threat of a long relegation battle as only two points currently split twelfth placed St Johnstone and ninth placed St Mirren, then you’ve got Hearts and Hamilton in between those two.
Hearts have just brought in Daniel Stendel as their new head coach and the German will hope to bring with him a bounce that will lead to more wins and get them up the table- they should have a strong enough squad to get out of trouble, but we’ve said that in the past about teams that have eventually gone down!
Bottom placed St Johnstone seem to be doing the right thing and sticking with an experienced coach, Tommy Wright, who has perviously guided the Perth Saints to European adventures and he’ll hope that he can galvanize his players over this festive period and get them away from their current troubles.
They too have a real trouble with consistency, and have not been able to build on any decent performances so far this season.
St Mirren still seem to be a work in progress under new gaffer Jim Goodwin and seem to have a knack of getting important points when playing against teams in and around them in the league; their recent 1-0 away win over The Accies is a very recent example of this.
That loss will have hurt Hamilton and they’ll hope to get a more positive result when they travel up to Aberdeen this weekend as Lanarkshire club haven’t won in their last ten games and that isn’t a trend that they’ll want to see continue for much longer.
It’s huge for our top flight that so much hasn’t been decided by Christmas especially when you look down south and see Liverpool already holding a huge lead in the Premier League, while other leagues in the continent have clubs adrift at the bottom of their table.
Yet all our meaningful positions still have plenty of teams fighting for them.
Let’s hope it all comes down to the wire in May!
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