As the Match Week 8 of the SPFL came to a close on Sunday, Scottish Premiership fans are getting to watch a familiar sight as the Hoops and Blues return to the top of the table, after Celtic missed out on a couple of games which saw them languish in mid-table.
In the first match of the round, Celtic travelled to the Simple Digital Arena as they faced off against St. Mirren. Celts boss Neil Lennon deployed a similar 3-5-2 formation which destroyed Ross County in their previous fixture, while his counterpart James Goodwin opted for a slightly more defensive approach by dropping a striker and playing a 4-1-4-1.
The game began with a rocky start for Celtic as Lee Erwin netted his first goal of the season for the Saints with a clumsy finish into the bottom corner after teammate Joe Shaughnessy nodded on the ball after a corner was taken.
However, Shane Duffy pulled them level in the 21st minute after a precise header from a Ryan Christie free-kick. The Scot international was instrumental in setting up the second as well, as James Forrest rounded off the scoring 15 minutes later. After a slew of missed chances in the second half from both sides, the match ended 2-1 in favor of the Glasgow side.
The Celts played again on Sunday, as they took on Livingston at Parkhead. Lennon seems to have entrusted the backline with the dominating Shane Duffy and Kristoffer Ajer as they started again in a back three. Meanwhile, Livingston opted for a heavy defensive approach as manager Gary Holt started with 5 at the back, having used 4 man defenses against other opposition.
Like their previous fixture, the Hoops conceded first as Jason Holt sent the Lions ahead in the 17th minute with a cool penalty. Unfortunately, the away side held on to their lead for a meagre three minutes before Celtic equalized, courtesy of a goal from Callum McGregor. It did not stop there though. Celtic went ahead in the 23rd minute and completed the rout early in the first half. Forwards Ryan Christie and Albian Ajeti provided the goods before being subbed off later. Livingston could only manage a consolation with a quarter of an hour left as Holt turned provider this time for Julien Serrano, with the final time scoreline being 3-2 in favour of the Celts.
2 wins from 2 sent Celtic above Hibernian as they pulled to one point behind Rangers. Their rapid improvement in form and no pressure of European football should see them leapfrog their rivals in the coming weeks. At this rate, 10-in-a-row doesn’t feel as steep now. On the other hand, Livingston languish at the bottom of the table with only 5 points from 8 games.
Heading into Match Week 8 after a thumping 5-0 Europe League win against Gibraltarian side Lincoln in midweek, rivals Rangers headed to Edinburgh to take on a revitalised Hibernian side who have lost only one till date. Gerrard lined up his side in his customary 4-3-3 formation with Alfredo Morelos leading from the front. Jack Ross, on the other hand, took a substantial risk, lining up with 3 at the back, as their previous attempt failed with a loss to Aberdeen.
Rangers were unable to extend their run of clean sheets as Hibees midfielder Drey Wright put the Edinburgh side ahead midway through the first half. Fortunately, Gers’ Colombian cannon Morelos equalized at the stroke of half time to keep things level as they headed into the break. As the second half got underway, Scott Arfield pulled the Blues ahead with a low finish into the left side of the goal. Unfortunately, due to some poor back post defending, the home side capitalized on the error as Christian Doidge scored the fourth goal of the game, after a sublime cross from Martin Boyle.
The game finished 2-2 with both sides picking up a solitary point, which saw the Hibees drop down to third. With only a single point difference now between the Glaswegian giants, Rangers’ boss Steven Gerrard will be praying for Hibs to pull off a consecutive upset, as they face Celtic in their next fixture.
After their 5-0 humbling to reigning champs Celtic, Ross County made amends as they beat St. Johnstone away from home, ending their horrendous run of form which saw them lose three and draw two in five games. The Dingwall club got back to winning ways, albeit unconvincingly, as they beat Callum Davidson’s side at McDiarmid Park. The only goal of the game came from a wonderful Iain Vigurs free-kick as he curled the ball into Elliot Parish’s net. His strike earned them their third win of the season.
Elsewhere, Kilmarnock saw off Hamilton 2-1 despite losing Eamonn Brophy to a straight red in the first half. St Mirren have now lost four on the trot after they slumped to a 2-1 defeat against promoted side Dundee United. The Tangerines’ key man Lawrence Shankland got on the scoresheet as they condemned James Goodwin’s side to their second defeat of the week. Rounding up Match Week 8 on Sunday, Motherwell won their second of the season after an impressive 3-0 win at Aberdeen and saw them move up to eighth in the table.