Celtic are well used to a busy schedule over the course of a season.
Three successive trebles have ensured that much of Neil Lennon’s squad is well aware of the gruelling task in front of them over the next couple of months.
This December though is shaping up to be particularly brutal both physically and mentally for the Scottish champions.
A thumping 5-2 win against Hibs on Saturday, coupled with a Rangers win against Hearts, has ensured that.
There’ll be no time for the Hoops to stop and pause for festive cheer, not until the mid-season break anyway.
The headline fixtures in December are undoubtedly the matches against our city rivals.
We’ll first face them in the League Cup Final on Sunday December 8th at Hampden (a scheduled match against St Johnstone is to be re-arranged), with the winners taking serious momentum into the rest of the season.
It’s a chance for Celtic to show that despite improvement in Govan, we’re still the team to beat in Scotland when silverware is on the line.
No less important though is the fixture at Celtic Park on December 29th, at the end of the nine fixtures we’re discussing.
It’s expected both team will maintain their early season form in the run up to that one, making it a match that could have as big a say in the destination of the league title as any derby in recent years.
Europa League climax
In Europe too things are heating up. By our last group stage encounter against Cluj the hope will be we will have already made it through to the knockout stages of the Europa League, but there’s every chance this becomes a do-or-die fixture.
The mid-week trip to Romania is sandwiched between the aforementioned final against Rangers and a league match at home to Hibs.
If it does become a must-win fixture then that will be the most important week of our season so far, slap bang in the middle of a brutal run of matches.
Life isn’t easy when you’re successful.
The so-called lesser fixtures
While the majority of our thoughts as fans in December will be on the three discussed matches, there’s also the small matter of ensuring our league form does not dip.
Scottish Premiership away matches in December include a trip to Dingwall to face Ross County, a mid-week Tynecastle match against Hearts and a short journey to Paisley for St Mirren.
Also entertaining Aberdeen, Hibs and Hamilton at home, we’ll certainly be kept busy away from the the high profile matches that grab the majority of people’s attention throughout December.
It’s a month that is potentially season defining for Neil Lennon and his squad. Do well and they’ll head into the new year as heroes on their way to nine-in-a-row and another treble. Struggle and we’ll all be searching for answers heading into the transfer window.
These are the fine margins at Celtic right now. Hopefully the Bhoys are up for the battle across three competitions, as they have been to date.