Celtic’s run of five Scottish Premiership victories in a row has seen the champions re-establish their dominance at the top of the table, opening up a six-point lead in the tightest title race for some years.
But Brendan Rodgers’ men face their sternest test since December’s Old Firm reverse this weekend as they travel to Rugby Park to take on fourth-placed Kilmarnock.
Here, we preview the three standout Scottish Premiership fixtures of the upcoming weekend, with Rangers and Aberdeen hoping to close the gap Celtic have opened up.
Rangers vs St Johnstone
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers went into the Scottish Premiership’s winter break buoyed by a 1-0 Old Firm victory over Celtic at Ibrox, but they slipped up immediately as the top-flight actioned resumed late last month, losing to Kilmarnock.
They have not been defeated since, though, riding a run of four wins and a draw in the Scottish Cup against Killie last weekend.
The Gers had been in fine scoring fettle before a goalless draw with Kilmarnock last time out, too, bagging 14 goals in their previous four fixtures, including the 4-2 thumping of fellow challengers Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Rangers face sixth-place St Johnstone, who have lost their last five games on the bounce, on Saturday, with the home side gunning for a big-scoring, morale-boosting victory.
Aberdeen vs St Mirren
Aberdeen bounced back from the aforementioned defeat to Rangers by hammering Queen of the South 4-1 in the Cup last weekend.
But it is Premiership points the Dons need most. Derek McInnes’’ side are still third in the table, ahead of Kilmarnock on goals difference. But they have slipped five points behind Rangers and are now 11 adrift of Celtic.
The arrival of bottom-placed St Mirren to Pittodrie on Saturday, then, will be welcome. The Buddies have just three league wins to their name this season and have lost each of their last seven Premiership fixtures; they have the worst defensive record in the league and the limpest attack.
Kilmarnock vs Celtic
Easily the standout game of the weekend, Celtic’s recent fine form will be truly tested when they show up at Rugby Park to take on Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock.
Killie are fourth in the table and have earned plaudits this term with their rise to contention under the former West Bromwich Albion manager. Kilmarnock boast the third-meanest defence in the league and only the top three clubs have outscored them this term.
But Killie’s form has dipped of late, winless in their last four all-competitions games, including two draws and a loss in the Premiership.
Celtic will be hoping to pile further misery on Kilmarnock on Sunday afternoon and Rodgers’ men have been back to their imperious best recently.
With five wins on the bounce and on-loan 18-year-old USA international forward Timothy Weah having settled quickly following his January arrival at Celtic Park from Paris Saint-Germain, already twice a scorer in the Premiership, the Bhoys will take some stopping.
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