Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has insisted it is still too early to talk of a title race even although only three points separate the Premiership’s top four clubs at the moment.
Celtic and Rangers are locked together at the top of the table, the champions ahead only on goal difference and a single point between them and Kilmarnock while McInnes’ own side, runners-up in each of the past four seasons, sit a further two off the pace.
McInnes, pictured, revealed he believes that as congested as things are at the moment, he expects Celtic to eventually pull away and clinch their eighth successive title.
He said: “I don’t think there is a title race. I’m not sure anyone can say that, even if we would all want that. After 21 games it shows there is a real credibility at the moment, but it falls short of a real title race.
“If we get to March and April and there’s still congestion at the top, then you could say with certainty that there is a title race on then. It’s easy to have a good couple of months in this league. But there have been enough good teams over 21 games which is why it’s right. It is exciting.
“I think Celtic are the most likely to stretch away but every team is finding it difficult to get away and get those winning runs going.
“Where we are is where we normally tend to be in terms of our points tally. We are better than some years, maybe a bit behind compared to others. It’s that Celtic have come back to us but that’s not to say Celtic have deteriorated; it’s more other teams are making it difficult.”
Having said that, McInnes expects Aberdeen to improve on their first-half showing. He said: “It’s been more challenging this season than in previous years and that goes for most teams, because the league is stronger.
“We also have challenges within. We want to carry more of a goal threat, which we have had recently. We had to deal with a few injuries but now it’s like making a couple of new signings.
“Mikey Devlin is back, we coped without Gary Mackay-Steven through December when we had nine games, Tommie Hoban is coming back.
“I feel as if we will be stronger as a squad. Some of the younger ones we’ve found out more about, Connor McLennan did great for us, and we’ll try to be as competitive as we can.”