The race for the Scottish Premiership title is alive and well after Aberdeen closed the gap on leaders Celtic with a gutsy 2-1 win over Patrick Thistle. Derek McInnes side may have laboured away in this match and indeed fallen behind after an hour but it only served to motivate Aberdeen to turn up a gear. Goals from Andrew Considine and Simon Church swung the game back in favour of the visiting team and eventually handed them a much needed three points. With Celtic stuttering in recent weeks (14 points obtained from a possible 24), Aberdeen can sense an opportunity to snatch the title away from their Glasgow rivals for the first time in 31 years.
A poor October in which they picked up only one point from a possible twelve looked to have cost Aberdeen dearly with Celtic pulling out in front. But thanks to an incredible run of twelve games without defeat including a second win of the season over Celtic, Aberdeen have closed the gap to only one point, albeit with Celtic having one more game to play. With four games left before the split (after 33 games, the league splits into a top six and bottom six. Each club then plays a further five games to against teams from their section to determine final league standings. Very confusing and incredibly stupid) Aberdeen are looking to secure maximum points to give themselves the best possible chance at success. Assuming Celtic win their five remaining games before the split, that would leave the Parkhead side four points ahead of Aberdeen. That however is not a certainty given that they face difficult away trips to Kilmarnock and Motherwell as well as hosting an impressive looking Hearts side. Aberdeen also play Hearts, Kilmarnock and Hearts as well as Hamilton before the split so neither side has an easy run in.
To date, Celtic have lost three times in the league – twice to Aberdeen and once to Motherwell. They have also drawn twice against Hearts and Kilmarnock this year highlighting their vulnerability against these sides. Aberdeen have faired better beating both twice this campaign. However its against the so called weaker sides in the division that Aberdeen have taking their foot off the pedal and as a result have dropped valuable points. McInnes has worked hard to improve the focus of his side but on certain occasions Aberdeen’s over confidence has been their undoing. Keeping a level head going into the last few games will give them the best chance of picking up the points needed to cause an upset and snatch the title away from Celtic. For Ronny Deila, this season couldn’t finish fast enough. Disappointment in Europe has been echoed by some abject domestic performances leading many to speculate that the Norwegian is a dead man walking.
Celtic will more than likely make wholesale changes before the start of next season especially given their topsy turvy campaign this year and the impending promotion of arch rivals Rangers back to the top flight. Celtic in truth should have walked with ease to their five consecutive title given the amount of money they have spent on improving their squad versus the financial resources available to the other sides in the league. But the current champions have been startled by the resurrection of Aberdeen under McInnes and the resurgence of Hearts who only won promotion from the Championship last year. The demands placed on the squad of competing in Europe have played a role but the biggest factor in Celtic’s lackluster season is the quality of players that have been bought in by Deila. Whilst a few have worked, most have failed highlighting why Deila has to go. Losing out on the title to Aberdeen will be seen as the ultimate failure for the Norwegian and will end his reign with the Scottish Champions once and for all.