The international break is a good time for a ‘mid-term’ report for the Scottish Premiership and it would see Aberdeen and Hibs coming out as top of the class.
Harsh? Given that Celtic remain unbeaten, top of the table and have just eclipsed their own British record in going 63 domestic games without defeat? Perhaps. But the Hoops are now doing what we expect for the most part.
They will be champions again and it is starting to look a lot like Celtic could be capable of another faultless league season – now that would really be something. But we’ve also seen some sub-par performances, notably in home tussles with Hibs and Kilmarnock.
Balancing their European aspirations against domestic desires will be tough for Celtic, particularly if as now looks likely they can keep the European flame burning into next year.
It is hard to criticise, especially in light of the 3-0 demolition of Aberdeen at Pittodrie recently, but Celtic have not yet done anything we didn’t expect of them.
Aberdeen continue to go about their business impressively and have maintained their spot as next best for now.
A really promising start set up that massive midweek occasion when Celtic came calling, with the teams level on points and with Aberdeen desperate to puncture the air of invincibility that surround Brendan Rodgers’ side domestically.
Alas, for the Dons, it never appeared likely once the game started. Derek McInnes can still be content with what his team have done so far but he is now at a major crossroads.
Aberdeen are 5/6 in betting without Celtic market but how would that price change if McInnes is lured to the vacant post at Ibrox?
Rangers, 11/10 without Celtic, have yet to make their position clear but McInnes is the logical choice as he knows the club and understands what is needed. Having proven his credentials at Aberdeen, he would be the perfect fit.
Having turned down Sunderland in the summer, a decision that now looks to have been proved the right one, will McInnes be tempted by the Rangers job?
Aberdeen still appear to have the second-best squad but how much stock is placed in their manager? That is a question that might be answered in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, Hibs are quietly adapting to life back in the top flight. The Easter Road side sit third and are a generous 15/2 in the without Celtic market.
Neil Lennon’s side have won at Ibrox and given Celtic a scare at Parkhead. With four league wins on the spin, they are finding consistency and the Hibs boss is already talking of his determination to fend off interest in the January market for his key men.
Lennon is “encouraged” by Hibs’ stance on retaining their top players and says he’ll have his eye on January reinforcements instead. The ex-Celtic boss also talks of a “huge December” for the team that will give a clearer indication of what their goals are this season.
Given the implied uncertainty caused by McInnes’ future, it might be that Hibs, the form team right now, are the value bet to chase Celtic home this season by finishing ahead of both Aberdeen and Rangers.
Celtic are 1/100 to win the title for the seventh season in a row
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