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Scottish Premiership weekend preview: Celtic aim to maintain lead at the top

There is another round of Scottish Premiership matches this weekend and it is as you were at the top of the table following the 2-2 Old Firm derby draw on Monday.

Rangers boss Michael Beale must have been thinking he would taste victory in his first derby in charge as the Light Blues were 2-1 going into the 88th minute at Ibrox, seeking a win which would close the gap at the top and keep them within touching distance in the title race.

However, Kyogo Furuhashi had other ideas as his close-range finish meant the points were shared in Govan and the gap remains nine points in favour of the champions. 

Celtic face a home match against Kilmarnock next up, while Rangers make the journey east to face Dundee United, who are only one point above the bottom.

Elsewhere, Hearts are hoping to secure third place as they head to St Mirren to try and pull further clear of Aberdeen, while Ross County, who are bottom, have a very winnable contest at home against sixth-place Livingston.

Hoops seek to build on Old Firm escapology

WhatCeltic v Kilmarnock
WhereParkhead, Glasgow
When15.00, Saturday 7th January
How to watchN/A
OddsCeltic 1/12, draw 11/1, Kilmarnock 22/1

In truth, Rangers probably did enough to deserve all three points against Celtic but Ange Postecoglou's men have a 'never-say-die' attitude and they showcased that with a late goal on Monday.

It appeared like it was going to be a perfect start to the New Year for Celtic as Daizen Maeda's early goal gave them the lead to the delight of the travelling faithful.

The start of the second half however saw Rangers intensify the pressure and Celtic buckled - Ryan Kent scored a wonderful curling effort to get them back level before James Tavernier hammered home a penalty following a clumsy challenge from Carl Starfelt on Fashion Sakala.

Celtic were uncharacteristically poor but Furuhashi latched onto a loose ball in the box to make it 2-2, grabbing his 15th Premiership goal of the season.

Postecoglou would have been hoping for better, but at this stage of the season, with the gap they have over Rangers, a point would probably be classed as a good result, especially away from home.

On Saturday, they get back to the bread and butter of other league fixtures with a match against Kilmarnock in Glasgow.

Celtic have a perfect record on their own patch in the league this season and, as always, it is very difficult to see where the positives are going to come for Killie, who are ninth in the table.

They have been on a fairly good run of late, losing only one of their last five matches, but a trip to Parkhead is a different proposition altogether - they haven't managed to win there since October 2012.

Beale keen on build on positive start

WhatDundee United v Rangers
WhereTannadice, Dundee
When16.30, Sunday 8th January
How to watchSky Sports Football
OddsDundee United 17/2, draw 4/1, Rangers 1/3

So far, Michael Beale's start to life in the Rangers hot seat has been almost flawless, though they will still need to improve further if they are to try and mount a late title challenge.

In fairness, next season will probably be the best time to judge Beale once he has been allowed to bring in his own signings but, for now at least, there is plenty to be positive about.

Prior to the Old Firm game, Rangers had won each game of Beale's reign, scoring ten goals in the process and he is certainly generating some attacking football.

Curing Rangers' soft underbelly will be the key for Beale going forward and the fact they have conceded six in five games does suggest that they need to improve.

However, it has been a good start and that will be expected to continue when they travel to face Dundee United on Sunday.

The Tangerines have grabbed a couple of vital wins in the last two games, beating Ross County and St Johnstone meaning the former have now replaced them at the bottom of the table.

Despite that, this is a game that the Gers will expect to win quite comfortably.

Related Football News

Scottish Premiership: Michael Beale full of optimism after Old Firm derby

Monday's Scottish Premiership preview: Old Firm duo set for Ibrox showdown

Hearts eager to be best of the rest

WhatSt Mirren v Hearts
WhereSt Mirren Park, Paisley
When15.00, Saturday 7th January
How to watchN/A
OddsSt Mirren 15/8, Draw 23/10, Hearts 6/4

Last season, Hearts managed to finish third behind the Old Firm duo and seal the best of the rest title despite only just being promoted the year before and the aim for them is to do the same this year.

They are in a good position, as they sit on 31 points from 19 games, five clear of Aberdeen, who are on a wretched run of form having not won any of their last five since the return from the World Cup break.

Hearts, under the stewardship of Robbie Neilson, are third in the table and have only lost one of their last eight games.

They are looking well on course to achieve their aims this season and may earn themselves another crack of European football following their exploits in the Europa Conference League this season.

St Mirren may prove to be a tricky test with the fifth-place side proving tough to beat - they have not lost any of their last five though four of them have ended all square.

Urgency needed for Ross County

WhatRoss County v Livingston
WhereVictoria Park, Dingwalll
When15.00, Saturday 7th January
How to watchN/A
OddsRoss County 17/10, Draw 11/5, Livingston 17/10

Currently, it is Ross County who prop up the table at the start of 2023 following a dreadful run which has seen them pick up just one point from five games.

That point did come in their last game as they secured a goalless draw away at Aberdeen but this season has been a real struggle for the Dingwall side with Malky Mackay's remit being to keep them in the division.

Ross County have only managed to get four wins all season and one of them was against Livingston, who they face next up.

Scoring goals has been the biggest problem so far with only 14 in the division, though they can take encouragement from the fact that Livingston themselves have not been banging them in regularly - with just 18 in 19 games.

A win here could breathe new life into their season, which is stagnating right now.

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