It's All in Celtic's Hands in the Scottish Premier League

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It's All in Celtic's Hands in the Scottish Premier League
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Two more obstacles stand in the way of Celtic and a fourth successive SPL Championship win, and it is now theirs to throw away.

After Rangers' 2-1 win over Aberdeen on Saturday, Celtic are three points behind with two games to play, while Rangers have one match remaining—away to Dundee Utd. next Sunday.

Celtic head to Easter Road tomorrow knowing that even a 1-0 win will put them firmly in pole position heading into the final set of fixtures.

Normally, Celtic would be quietly confident of winning this fixture, but their away form this season has been poor. Indeed, that includes a 0-2 reverse at the same venue in November.

The outcome of this one depends on the team Gordon Strachan selects. Positions are up for grabs in every department of the team.

Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, and Loovens are virtually certain to start, but will Lee Naylor or Darren O'Dea be given the nod at left-back?

O'Dea might be preferred due to his greater physical presence, but he does not offer the same energy and mobility going forward as Naylor.

In midfield, Strachan has even more decisions to make. Shunsuke Nakamura has been playing through the pain barrier for weeks and hectic away games often pass him by.

Will he prefer the direct running and aggression of Willo Flood?

I think he will go with Nakamura after Flood's relatively anonymous performance at Tynecastle a few weeks ago.

The most vital decision will be the midfield partner for Scott Brown. It is a straight choice between young Catalan Marc Crosas and Paul Hartley.

Crosas has had an impressive debut season for the club, bringing the precision of a metronome to the tempo of Celtic's game but has barely featured away from home, where I think Strachan will opt for the experience of Hartley, whom the manager trusts implicitly on the big occasions.

The veteran Hartley knows such occasions will not come around for him too often again.

On the left of midfield, you would assume the on-form Aiden McGeady will be preferred to Shaun Maloney, but there is no question all things being equal, Strachan prefers Maloney.

Most Celtic fans would prefer McGeady, at least for tomorrow.

Up front, Scott McDonald picks himself, the only question is who will partner him?

Neither Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink nor Georgios Samaras has made himself indispensable, although Samaras was on fire before an unlucky injury knocked him off his stride in October. Strachan will probably start with the more mobile Samaras.

It will be a tense, fraught affair, probably settled by no more than a single goal. For all that Rangers have been stuttering recently, they have the points in the bag, and it is up to Celtic to remove them from top spot.

A draw would leave Celtic requiring Rangers to slip up in their final match, but there is a distinct possibility they will, especially with Madjid Bougherra suspended (barring SPL shenanigans with the inevitable Rangers appeal over his red card against Aberdeen).

Defeat would leave Rangers simply having to avoid losing to Dundee Utd. to wrap it up.

Celtic will approach this match cautiously. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

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