Celtic return to action today as they host Ross County at home in the Scottish Premiership. It’s a top vs bottom scenario where both clubs are separated by 46 points and a goal difference of +59.
Talk about contrast. And that’s been a relatively timid season by the Hoops.
Last season Celtic were rampant, unbeaten and of course treble winners. This season they are still out in front and in with a chance of winning another treble, but less convincing.
Now that won’t matter to Ross County today. Anything they get from today’s match will be a bonus.
At this stage in the season though, Celtic will not be slowing down. In fact they need to get into top gear.
Injuries have plagued Celtic all season. With eight league games remaining and everything left to play for, it’s good to see so many players returning for such an important part of the season.
Few in the media have commented on Celtic’s injury blight. Presumably as it gives us an excuse for poor results.
And still, here we are in the hunt for back-to-back trebles. Could be another piece of history in the making.
Assuming that Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen don’t stuff up any of their remaining pre-split matches, the earliest the league could be tied up would be on matchday one of the post-split fixtures. By that time Aberdeen could have used their game at hand to leapfrog Rangers into second spot.
After today, Celtic have Dundee at home on Wednesday and Hamilton away next weekend. Rangers are away to Motherwell today and it is a potential banana skin for them.
They then host Dundee at Ibrox next weekend. Aberdeen have it a little tougher though.
Today they are at home to St Johnstone, away to Motherwell midweek and away to Hearts next weekend. So despite having a game at hand they also have three hard matches.
There is also Hibs to consider. They also have a game at hand.
They’re at home to Partick Thistle today, home to Hamilton midweek and away to Ross County next week. You might also think Kilmarnock cab put pressure on the situation as they also have a game at hand.
Their next three matches are home to Hamilton, away to Partick Thistle and away to Hamilton again. So the top four spots could look very different very soon by the time the league splits in two.
Celtic’s objective is to start flexing their muscles. Despite still missing five first team players through injury and suspension, they have gained from those returning from injury recently.
Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic, Marvin Compper, Patrick Roberts and now Leigh Griffiths are all back in contention. Probably not what the opposition want to hear at this end of the season.
Celtic also boosted their ranks of course with Scott Bain, Jack Hendry and Charly Musonda in January. These are all timely arrivals which so far I’ve been impressed with.
It’s such an important stage of the season for everyone. There are trophies, contracts and history at stake.