Former Celtic striker John Hartson believes that the Premiership title is theirs to lose this season after they opened up a commanding lead since the winter break.
The Hoops have won all five league matches they have played so far in 2020, whereas nearest rivals Rangers have slipped up twice in that time, with the two-point gap between the teams going into the mid-season break now extended to seven points.
Hartson thinks that the greater consistency of his former club will tip the scales as they pursue a ninth successive league title. Speaking on BBC Sportsound [via Daily Record], he said: “I think it’s Celtic’s title to lose, I really do.
“They’ve got themselves into a fantastic position since the new year, since losing to Rangers before the winter break. They’ve come back absolutely flying, there’s a feel-good factor amongst the supporters. I said two weeks ago I don’t think the Celtic vs Rangers games will define the title, both teams still may well drop points at some stage.
“Rangers have already done that with the defeat to Hearts and the draw with Aberdeen. It’s all well and good saying ‘we’ve got two Old Firms coming up’ but Celtic will want to bounce back and prove a point in them. I think it’s Celtic’s to lose, but there’s still 13 games remaining and 39 points to play for. No-one wants to give an inch away at the minute.”
Hartson makes a valid point in saying that the Glasgow derbies alone are unlikely to decide the destination of the Premiership title. The teams have met each other twice in the league this season and have one victory each, with Celtic’s 2-0 triumph at Ibrox in September avenged by Rangers at Parkhead just after Christmas (as per TransferMarkt).
Having cancelled each other out in the derbies, the seven-point gap between the teams owes to Celtic’s greater ruthlessness against other teams in the division. Aside from December’s derby, the Hoops have dropped points just twice all season, drawing at Hibernian and losing at Livingston. Indeed, since October’s setback at the Tony Macaroni Arena, they have won 16 of their 17 Premiership fixtures. [via TransferMarkt]
Rangers, on the other hand, have slipped up in four matches apart from the home defeat to Celtic – and two of those were against bottom club Hearts, who drew with them in October and beat them recently. The ‘Gers have also failed to beat Aberdeen in the teams’ two most recent clashes, with their dropped points since the mid-season break nullifying any advantage they gained from winning at Parkhead six weeks ago. [via TransferMarkt]
Even though Steven Gerrard’s men have a game in hand on Celtic, the Hoops know that they have the luxury of being able to lose one match and still be in control of their own destiny in the title race. That is a nice comfort to have for a team that has responded perfectly to the derby setback in December and, with Lennon’s men less inclined to slip up against teams outside of the top two, Hartson is right in saying that a ninth successive title is theirs to lose given their current position.
Celtic fans, what did you make of Hartson’s views on the Premiership title race? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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