There seems to be two camps of Celtic fans this week. One that wants to get Hibernian pumped and clinch the title this weekend, and one then wouldn’t mind if those celebrations were delayed another week.
I’m certainly in the former. I have no love of Hibs and I reckon it would be far more enjoyable spending the next week quoting James Tavernier’s Twitter in which he praised Alloa for giving his team a guard of honour after they clinched one of the lower league titles.
If we’re champions after this weekend, it would be only right that our next opponents at Celtic Park form up for a guard of honour. It’s the dignified thing to do, right James?
I have no real interest in clinching the league against that lot, mainly because I want it done and dusted as soon as possible. Everyone knows our seventh league title is coming at some point and we shouldn’t be doing anyone any favours.
For me, the only Celtic fan that should be hoping Celtic lose this weekend is Neil Lennon.
Hibernian have their own battles. With five games to go, they are sitting fourth just three points behind both second and third place. If Celtic complete the double treble next month then that will be enough for a European spot next season, but Hibernian can’t risk losing out to Motherwell if they should win the Scottish Cup instead.
For those who don’t know, cup losers no longer get the place. If the winner already has a place in Europe, it reverts back to the league. So Hibernian need to overhaul one, if not both, of the teams ahead of them to be sure of that Europa League qualifying berth.
With only five games to go, they need to try and take as many points as possible to do that. First up for them is ourselves, and I’m sure Hibs will be disappointed they haven’t taken more off Celtic already this season. That’s despite already having two draws from the three league games.
The two games at Celtic Park were tight. Celtic led through Callum McGregor in the first match, but two goals from John McGinn had given Hibs a late lead before McGregor levelled to ensure our long unbeaten run continued.
The other game at Celtic Park saw Leigh Griffiths score the only goal of the game before going off injured, but that is the only league win Celtic have had over Hibs. At 1-0 it suggests today won’t be any different.
We had two trips to Edinburgh in quick succession back in December. The second ended our 69 game domestic unbeaten run at Tynecastle, but it had very nearly gone at Easter Road just before that.
It shouldn’t have been that way. A stuffy Hibernian went two goals down in the second half thanks to a double from Scott Sinclair, but Celtic then self destructed and Efe Ambrose pulled one goal back before Oliver Shaw equalised.
Shaw nearly got the winner too after a clanger from Craig Gordon, but Mikael Lustig was able to clear the effort on an almost empty goal and kept the unbeaten run going just that little longer.
Hibernian’s spirit has been evident in most games against us, and that includes the League Cup semi final. Two goals from Lustig had given us a decent half time lead, but when Hibs were gifted a penalty by the referee, Anthony Stokes pulled a goal back from the spot. Moussa Dembele was able to restore the two goal lead, but Shaw reduced the deficit once more before Dembele finally put the tie to bed a couple of minutes from the end.
They’re the only team in two seasons to score against us in the League Cup, and with six goals against us in four games they are one of the highest scoring against us in Scotland. Only Hearts have scored as many against us, and most of those were in one game!
So we have a tough opponent with their own ambitions, in a city where we have only picked up one point from a possible six, and to clinch the title this weekend we need to take all three.
It’s far from a foregone conclusion then!
No one wants to win the title in the house, but fail to win today and that’s a possibility. If the two teams below us match our result, or worse, then we’ll be champions come the end of action at Ibrox on Sunday. But that would need Kilmarnock and Hearts to take something. Hearts have nothing more to play for this season, and Kilmarnock’s bogey team appears to be Aberdeen this season! So while it’s possible, I don’t think it’s likely.
We could also win it next Saturday if Aberdeen and Hearts both win this weekend but Aberdeen then lose next weekend, but we’re getting well ahead of ourselves now.
Our focus should be on ourselves and today’s match. Three points is always our aim, and three points today will win our seventh consecutive league title. It’s no more complicated than that.
This feat has only been achieved once before in Celtic history. Willie Maley’s men stopped at six. Jock Stein’s men went on to win nine. This run may have involved three separate managers, but it’s still just the one and only Celtic.
So let’s go out and get that magnificent seven!
Krys (Twitter @krys1888)