First Touch

A Bananas Weekend in Scotland?

Most of the top six in Scotland’s Premiership face potential banana skins this weekend—the last round of matches, ironically, before the “split,” or when the 12-team table divides in half to determine the fixture list for the rest of the season.

The Full Scottish with Brian P. Dunleavy  

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After a big, emotional victory at Ibrox on Sunday, Celtic return home to play a St. Johnstone side fighting for their top-flight lives. Their rivals Rangers head to Paisley on Sunday to take St. Mirren, which sits six points ahead of St. Johnstone in the table.

Dundee United, meanwhile, have a derby match against close neighbors Dundee, but the latter are sitting 12th and looking up. The Edinburgh derby looks to be the match of the weekend, at least on paper.

So, can we expect a let-down from any of the clubs facing lesser sides this weekend? Possibly, though Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou isn’t worried about his squad.

“We don’t go into any game thinking that maybe the opposition might be off today for ‘X’ reason,” told the media Friday. “We’re preparing for [St. Johnstone] to be at their best.”

Similarly, his counterpart at Ibrox, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, said in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat, “First of course there is disappointment, that is obvious, [but] you have to switch immediately to focus on the game ahead.”

Mind The Gap

With a six-point gap between Celtic and Rangers, both teams will need to do just that to, respectively, maintain their position and improve it. St. Johnstone may be having a poor season, but the Perth side secured the domestic cup double last term, with largely the same squad. St. Mirren, as usual, are more than capable of punching above their weight, even with a new manager still settling in. However, they are coming off two successive defeats, to Motherwell and Dundee United.

What happens this weekend will matter just as much in the title race as what happened last weekend. The clubs involved need to remember that.

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