Can Celtic Hold Their Nerve To Win The Scottish Premiership

The Scottish Premiership trophy has been draped in the green and white of Celtic for the past seven seasons, with arch-rivals Rangers last winning Scotland's top flight back in the 2010/11 season. Since then Rangers have been through a financial crisis and been forced to rebuild the club. Celtic on the other hand have remained unchallenged without Rangers in the Premiership.

This season though, the race to become champions of Scotland is a lot closer, with Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen all breathing down the Bhoys' necks. Celtic sit on top of the league, although it is only goal difference which sees them ahead of Rangers. With a game in hand to play against 6th place St. Johnstone, three points is far from certain in that match, particularly with how the team have performed so far this season.

Failure to win the game in hand will keep the gap between first and fourth at just three points and any football fan can tell you that such a small lead is easy to throw away. In the last three seasons combined Celtic have only lost four league matches, but they have already matched that total after 20 league matches this season.

Despite a shaky start to the season, in which Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League in the qualifying stages by AEK Athens, the Bhoys have seemingly steadied the ship, even though they dropped points away to Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers. Defeat at Ibrox courtesy of a Ryan Jack goal inflicted a first defeat in 13 Old Firm games for Brendan Rodgers.

January will prove to be a pivotal month for the club, as they will look to strengthen in attack after losing Moussa Dembele to Lyon in the summer in a deal thought to be worth close to 20 million. Although they made Odsonne Edouard's loan from Paris St-Germain a permanent deal, should they lose the 20-year old to injury then the club will be light up front, and it is goals that win games.

Stuart Armstrong left for Southampton in the summer and the midfielder, who scored 15 league goals in 31 matches in the 206/17 season has yet to be replaced. The 7 million fee that they received is enough to bring in a suitable replacement should Rodgers be allowed to spend that kind of money on finding the right player for the team.

Failure to improve the squad during this vital period of the season could leave Celtic susceptible to falling behind their rivals, as they will no doubt also look to strengthen now that the window has reopened. With Rangers manager Steven Gerrard having close links to Liverpool, he may well go back to his former club to add more Liverpool players, who would join Jon Flanagan who signed on a permanent deal from the Reds and Ryan Kent, who is on loan.

Celtic have the potential to move further ahead of their rivals and secure an eighth consecutive Scottish Premiership title, but this is only likely to happen if they strengthen now. Unlike Rangers, who were eliminated in the group stage, Celtic still have Europa League fixtures to contend with on top of their domestic games. This means the squad will be stretched even more thinly and injures are more likely to occur, which could provide the advantage for their Premiership rivals.

If you want to bet on Europa League winner, it is advisable to avoid Celtic, as they have been drawn against Spanish La Liga side Valencia in the second round. On the plus side for Celtic fans, early elimination can see the team keep its focus on successfully defending the league title.
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