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Scottish Premiership: What to See in Sunday’s Games

The stadiums will be largely empty, but the Scottish Premiership Show has to go on for one more game.

The 12 clubs come together on Sunday for one last hurray of 2021 before the hastily accelerated winter break whistles full-time.

Under the new restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government, only 500 fans will be allowed in each game in the hope that larger numbers will be allowed in until the game resumes in January.

So what to look for in a festive bumper …

Celtic title offer depends on Kyogo. away

Celtic is by no means a one-man team, but the importance of Kyogo Furuhashi to their title fight is becoming clearer.

With the extremely talented J -anese striker – hero of the League Cup final three days earlier – absent in the middle of the week, Celtic lost costly points in a goalless draw at Covid-tense St. Mirren.

Not for the first time since arriving that summer, Celtic was blunt without her talisman. In Kyogo’s eleven leagues, Ange Postecolgou’s men have won ten, the only defeat to the Rangers being at Ibrox.

In contrast, in the eight Premiership games that Kyogo failed to play, Celtic have only won three and taken 12 of 24 points.

Postecoglou is carefully looking after the fitness of the 26-year-old, who returned earlier than expected from a hamstring injury to inspire Celtic to win the Cup at Hampden.

With or without Kyogo on Sunday, Celtic can hardly afford another setback when they face a team from St. Johnstone in need of more points.

Callum Davidson’s men fell to the ground – where they are two points behind Dundee – in the midst of a six-game losing streak in the Premiership, scoring just two goals along the way.

The omens are not good for the Perth club, who have lost eight home games to Celtic in a row.

Can Maloney keep the winning start?

Shaun Maloney will make this management lark look easy should Hibs take another win at Dundee United on Sunday.

The former Scottish striker and Belgian assistant kicked off Easter Road with a 1-0 win over Aberdeen in his first game as coach as Hibs reacted strongly to the agony of the League Cup final.

Hibs are back in the top half of the table after the slump in form that cost Jack Ross his job, aiming for a third straight Premiership win to end the year on a high.

Sixth-placed United is now in a downward spiral after losing four straight league games.

Covid issues, which helped Thomas Courts face the Rangers with no first-team regulars, remain an issue with new cases reported, although key trio Benjamin Siegrist, Peter Pawlett and Ian Harkes could return from self-isolation to join Hibs to deliver.

A fifth straight loss for the men of Tannadice would be their longest top division loss in six straight under Craig Brewster in 2006.

St. Mirren Eye’s second surprise at Ibrox

After already numbing Celtic, can Covid-exhausted St. Mirren complete an Old Firm doubles at Ibrox?

Jim Goodwin is expected to get some players back to add to the young squad that kept Celtic in a goalless draw, but it’s still a daunting task against rampant Premiership face-setters.

The paisley club have been without a win for 10 league games and have lost their last nine league games to Ibrox, where they celebrated their last triumph in 1992.

Rangers are safely at the top of the table at the start of 2022, and coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst still has a 100 percent league record after six games.

The normally steadfast Dutchman, however, struggled with his side’s recent performance as they fought 1-0 at home against a severely weakened Dundee United. Van Bronckhorst will ask for more on Sunday.

Will Hearts Stop County’s Revival?

Malky Mackay's Ross County continued on good form by beating bottom-bottom St. Johnstone in the middle of the weekMalky Mackay’s Ross County continued on good form by beating bottom-bottom St. Johnstone in the middle of the week

Ross County is guaranteed not to start the New Year at the end of the year – quite an achievement after its terrible start to the season has taken root.

Malky Mackay’s men took just three points and no wins from their first 10 league games, but are in good spirits against Hearts on Sunday after a notable recovery.

County have only lost two of the last nine, a time when their 15-point win is only trumped by Rangers and Celtic.

They are four points behind bottom-bottom St. Johnstone and face a Hearts side looking to restore authority to the home after their 13-game run at Tynecastle was broken by the Rangers.

Hearts already have their January shopping with the Australian defender Nathaniel Atkinson signedwhile fans must enjoy the gifts from John Souttar while they can.

Out of contract at the end of the season, the Scottish defender looks set to leave but remains an integral part of the club’s ambitions even if he continues to wear a maroon shirt for a long time.

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