Scottish Premiership: what can we decide this weekend?
Celtic hold a six-point lead going into the final three matches of the Scottish Premiership season.
Ange Postecoglou’s side are unbeaten in 29 league games (W24 D5), so it’s a question of when, not if…
The champagne is already on ice after a 1-1 draw in the last Old Firm derby and the party could start this weekend.
Let’s take a look at what’s at stake in the latest round of top-flight fixtures, with St Johnstone and Dundee struggling down low.
Celtic with a hand on the trophy
Celtic also enjoy a far superior goal difference, a whopping 19 more than closest challengers Rangers.
Victory over Hearts on Saturday lunchtime would extend their lead to nine points, leaving the Ibrox side in need of a miraculous set of results.
Rangers host Dundee United on Sunday and need to match what their Glasgow rivals are doing for the contest to officially continue.
Hearts have enjoyed a fantastic return to the Premiership and are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions, with a Scottish Cup final to look forward to. They beat Celtic at Edinburgh on the first day of the league campaign and gave them a second-half scare at Tynecastle in January when Liam Boyce hit the post with a penalty in a 2-1 defeat.
However, it’s generally a different story across the M8, with Celtic winning 19 of their last 20 home league games against Hearts.
Advantage United in pursuit of Conference League
Dundee United lead the way in a tight three-way battle for two Europa Conference League qualifying spots.
If Tam Court’s men can pull off a surprise win at Ibrox and Ross County beat Motherwell to Dingwall then the folks at Tannadice can start making sure everyone has an up to date passport.
United are the only team other than Celtic to get the better of Rangers this season, but have been unsuccessful at Ibrox in the top flight since 2011.
If County can manage a third league win in a row against Motherwell for the first time, they could very well close the three-point gap on United, with those two meeting in the Highlands on the final day.
And County will relish their scoring chances on Saturday as the Steelmen are without a clean sheet in their last 13 league games.
If Motherwell can add to their solitary Premiership victory in 2022 and United lose, then a point will cover the trio.
Grim outlook for the bottom two
Lower club Dundee are running out of must-see games. Speaking after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie, manager Mark McGhee felt that if the Dark Blues took maximum points from their last three matches they would move St Johnstone into a play-off position .
What is the probability that Dundee won only five games all season and that they all arrived before McGhee in mid-February?
Eleventh is the best Dundee can do and a direct return to the Championship will be confirmed if they lose at St Mirren and Perth Saints win at Livingston.
Dundee claimed victory on their last trip to Paisley in October, earning them four wins in their last six Premiership visits, but the Buddies still need something to make sure they are absolutely in safety and will be backed after snapping a four-game losing streak at McDiarmid. Park last time.
It was a match in which many pundits predicted St Johnstone would win, but Callum Davidson’s side were abject in a 1-0 loss.
Livi have beaten Aberdeen and Hibs since the split but have lost their last three home meetings with the Saints in all competitions.
St Johnstone just don’t score enough – 22 goals in 35 games, despite somehow finishing eighth in 2011 with just 23.
If Davidson’s side can somehow muster maximum points from their last three outings, there’s an outside chance to falter at St Mirren or Aberdeen, but it all comes crashing down if those two follow through on the wins from last weekend Saturday.
Underachievers meet at Easter Road
Aberdeen visit Hibernian, with both sets of supporters eager to see this season’s return.
Hibs are the only side in the division yet to reach double goals in 2022. The managerless hosts have won two of their last 15 Scottish Premiership matches (D6 L7), scoring just eight times.
Aberdeen equals that wretched WDL record over the same period, but both of their wins have come in the last five games, while it’s two in 10 for Hibs.
The Dons were certainly used to having the measure of the Hibs in Edinburgh, losing just three times in 23 visits until 2019-20, but the hosts have won three of the last four between those two at Easter Road.
A point would realistically keep Aberdeen safe given the 20-goal advantage they have over St Johnstone, who they will next meet in Perth.