Rangers are now staring at the possibility of getting their first real, big lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.
Steven Gerrard’s men are three games into their domestic campaign in Scotland and have nine points on the board – beating St Johnstone last night, St Mirren on Sunday and dispatching Aberdeen on opening weekend.
And that has them on the road to having a healthy lead over rivals, champions and league favourites Celtic before they play again.
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If you missed the news earlier this week that Celtic’s next two matches against St Mirren and Aberdeen won’t go ahead due to left-back Boli Bolingoli‘s ill-advised trip to Spain last week then we’re not sure where you’ve been.
It’s a huge story in Scottish football at the moment as Neil Lennon’s side are now unable to play until they face KR Reykjavik next week in the Champions League.Embed from Getty Images
That means they miss two match days and wouldn’t take the field against Scottish opposition until the tough visit to Dundee United on August 22nd.
By then, Rangers could have the biggest lead they’ve ever had over their rivals since returning to the top flight.
It’s already a five-point lead following Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock on Sunday.
And a win over Livingston after beating St Johnstone would see that extended to eight points before Celtic’s return – a lead that is surely to apply pressure to Neil Lennon and his side in what could be a history-defining campaign.
That’s why this next week is so important for everyone at Ibrox.
Rangers will be well aware of the context of this season. Celtic sit a league title away from clinching 10-in-a-row and have barely been challenged over previous seasons – although the COVID-19 outbreak did result in the Premiership being awarded to them before all matches could be played.
At times over recent seasons Rangers have enjoyed leads over Celtic, but never any as big as eight points. And obviously there is the possibility they extend that if Celtic don’t return at full strength – which is definitely a possibility given their last competitive game will have came away at Rugby Park on August 9th.
Gerrard has been busy already in this transfer window, adding Jon McLaughlin, Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey, Cedric Itten, Kemar Roofe and Ianis Hagi in a permanent deal. That represents an improvement in quality that Rangers really needed after falling short in all competitions last season.
And with that sort of quality arriving at the club, he should see an improvement in his team as they look to end the prospect of 10-in-a-row for Celtic any time soon.
Their first step has to be taking advantage of this opening in the title race and applying some serious pressure to a Hoops team that has barely ever been tested domestically over recent seasons.
If they can’t do that, we could be set for a very memorable season.