Can Celtic win the league against Rangers next month?
Celtic haven’t been short of opportunities to gloat over their Old Firm enemies Rangers since the latter’s misfortunes began five years ago.
But the ultimate cherry on top could be clinching their sixth top flight triumph in a row when the sides next square off on March 12.
Brendan Rodgers has a 100% record against Rangers since taking over at Celtic Park last summer, winning a Hogmanay fixture 2-1, beating Mark Warburton’s side in the League Cup 1-0, and thrashing the Light Blues 5-1 on his Old Firm debut in September.
So can Rodgers’ side start the ultimate party next month? Here are the scenarios.
Pending a meltdown in Govan (or in Aberdeen) Celtic need to ensure that they win their next three games to have a chance of winning the trophy against Rangers.
Celtic’s next games are against Motherwell and Hamilton at Celtic Park, and a trip North to play Inverness.
Celtic’s recent results over the Highlanders should give them cheer, with a 6-0 thrashing of Richie Foran’s men in the cup a good indicator for how that game might go, though Inverness are also responsible for the only dropped points of Celtic’s season so far.
Rodgers’ men have also beaten Hamilton in both of their games so far this season, and will be confident of a repeat of the 3-0 win they secured on Christmas Eve.
Motherwell might prove the trickiest tie. The Steelmen pushed Celtic all the way in December, with a last minute Tom Rogic goal giving them a 4-3 win at Fir Park.
A Rangers slip-up?
Winning their next three games, plus beating Rangers in that fateful final Old Firm game before the split, would put Celtic on 82 points, with ten games left to play.
If Rangers win all three of their upcoming games, but fall short at Parkhead, they will be on 52 points with ten games left.
The smart among you will have worked out that means Celtic actually won’t have wrapped up the title, though the current chasm in goal difference (Celtic have a +49 goal difference compared to Rangers’ +6) still makes it a virtual certainty Scott Brown will hold the Premiership trophy aloft come May.
So Celtic need Rangers to slip up in one of their next three games, which are against Dundee, Inverness and St Johnstone.
Fans who saw Rangers struggle against Morton last week won’t be overwhelmed with confidence that the Ibrox men can achieve nine points from nine.
Even draw and two wins would put Rangers 32 points behind Celtic with 30 to play for if Brendan Rodgers keeps up his Old Firm record.
The Dons Factor
It says a lot about Rangers’ recent decline that Aberdeen, who are now clear favourites for second place, can have more influence on when Celtic when the league.
The Dons are currently three points ahead of Rangers, and if they win their next four games, and Celtic match them, they would be just 24 points behind Celtic with 10 games to play.
If Aberdeen win two and lose two, they would be 30 points behind with 30 to play, again depriving Celtic of their title win against Rangers.
So for Celtic to realise their dream, they need Aberdeen to drop a significant amount of points in their next four games.
If the Dons win one, lose one, and draw two, Celtic could clinch the title on Old Firm day. But if Aberdeen get any more than five points from a possible 12, that dream fades away.
With Rangers’ form still indifferent, and chaos reigning once again at the top of the club, it is clear that it is Aberden who have the best chance of stopping Celtic winning six-in-a-row against their greatest rivals.