Former Celtic midfielder Paul Hartley believes the title race is over if Celtic beat Rangers on Sunday.
The third meeting between the two sides this season is a do or die for Rangers. A victory for Celtic would fire them 13 points clear at the top of the Premiership with just seven games remaining. Effectively, there would be no way back for Steven Gerrard’s men.
Celtic have went on a terrific run of form since the winter break. Despite upheaval in the form of Brendan Rodgers’ departure and Neil Lennon’s swift arrival, Celtic have still managed to win 12 out of 13 domestic games.
It’s built what looks like an insurmountable lead at the top of the Premiership. Hartley, however, told Sky Sports that he believes the league will only be over if Celtic win the Glasgow derby this weekend.
“They’ve got to win (Rangers). Ten points behind, eight games to go, they’ve got to go there and try to win the game.
“There’s no point in going there and trying to sit back. Celtic can afford the draw but they’ll be going to try to win the game. If they win it looks like that’s the title over.
“Rangers know they can’t afford any more slip ups. They are out of both cups, they may not have any more silverware for another year so it’s a massive game for them.”
League is already over regardless of Sunday’s result
Hartley’s view is likely a popular one across Scotland. A Celtic victory would put them out of sight and would solidify their spot at the top of the Premiership.
Despite that, however, the league is already over as it is. A 10-point lead at this stage of the season will surely prove too much for a Rangers side who have failed to show any domestic consistency for the last three years.
A Rangers win would do nothing but frustrate the Celtic support on Sunday. It would also extremely tarnish Neil Lennon’s chances of getting the job you would imagine.
The fact Rangers have to win should also make it interesting, however. When Gerrard’s side came to Parkhead back in September, they tried to park the bus and sneak a draw. The Hoops dominated for 90 minutes and never looked like conceding a chance to Rangers nevermind a goal.
Let’s see how they approach this one on Sunday then – a match where they simply need the points. But regardless of what happens – the league is over.