Tonight’s full lineup in the Scottish Premiership could see further changes in the league pecking order. The top six clubs are slugging it out right now with Hearts still sitting comfortably at the top on 25 points.
They host Hibs (6th) at Tynecastle and have played one more game than the Easter Road side. Kilmarnock (2nd) are on 20 points and have also played the same amount of matches as Hearts.
A tough visit to Ibrox to face Rangers (5th) awaits them, with the home side currently on 17 points along with Hibs. Celtic (3rd) are just one point behind Kilmarnock, but have a game at hand over first and second place.
The Hoops travel to Dundee who are rock bottom with a mere 3 points to their name. This season’s surprise package, Livingston (4th), are at home to St Johnstone (7th) who are on 14 points.
The newly promoted Lothian club are in the enviable position of being a point behind Celtic and a point ahead of Rangers. Aberdeen (8th) are way off the pace right now on 12 points and entertain Hamilton (9th) at home who have 7 points.
That leaves Motherwell (10th) who are away to St Mirren (11th). Neither club have done much better than Dundee with the clubs on 5 points and 4 points respectively.
In terms of an open competition, this is what you want to see in the Scottish game. It isn’t something we see very often and certainly not much of in recent years.
You could argue that Celtic’s faltering start allowed Hearts to make off with an early lead. However, when you look at the league table the current top six clubs have been fairly consistent having lost no more than two games a piece.
That kind of competition makes for good viewing and entertainment. Scotland’s clubs may still be well off the pace in Europe, but in order to make a better job of it on the continent, you need to make your domestic game more competitive first.
I’d like to think that will increase and so far this season I haven’t been disappointed. Long may it continue.
So to tonight and the big fixtures that could change the current look of the league. Well Hearts v Hibs has to be the big one.
Hibs have not beaten Hearts at Tynecastle since May 2013. In between then they’ve had a fair few draws there so that might be their best hope.
Having said that, Hearts are troubled by injuries and perhaps this is a good opportunity for them to take something from the derby. It will be one to watch for sure.
Rangers v Kilmarnock will be another one to keep and eye on. Steven Gerrard has not lost at home this season whereas Steve Clarke has only lost one game on the road.
Killie did lose at home to Rangers in the League Cup last month. However, they have had their own luck at Ibrox in the last year with one win and one draw.
Dundee’s poor form and subsequent sacking of Neil McCann should not present Celtic with too many problems. The Hoops do have injuries, but they should have more than enough available personnel to put this fixture to bed and keep the pressure on Hearts.
There has also been the suggestion that we’ll see Daniel Arzani grace us with his presence. The World Cup youngster hasn’t featured since his arrival from Melbourne via Manchester City in the summer.
Now we could be set to see him in the Hoops at last. And there will be opportunities for others to come in as well.
Olivier Ntcham and Eboue Kouassi both went off injured at the weekend and will be assessed pre-match as to whether either can face Dundee. With Yousouff Mulumbu and Scott Brown also injured, defensive midfield duties would fall to Callum McGregor.
However, the possible inclusion of Arzani and impressive display by Ryan Christie against Hearts on Sunday, the Hoops are well equipped going forward. We are also beginning to see a more confident looking Scott Sinclair for about the first time in a year.
For a player who took ot the Hoops like a duck to water, he has been a man in desperate need of a kick-start these past twelve months. And already, he looks like he is beginning to put all that behind him and get back to his best.
That goes for the Celtic squad as a whole. Even with injuries, Celtic look galvanised again.
Europe may not be a happy hunting ground right now, but you cannot argue with our domestic resurgence of late. Long may that continue this evening at Dens Park.