The Scottish Premiership season hits the 10-game mark with one of the most open title races in years left.
Only six points separate the first six teams, half of the deficit that had already arisen in the same phase last season.
Just like a little over a year ago, the Rangers are at the top, but the reigning champion could be knocked off his stool until his visit to St. Mirren on Sunday.
What else should we watch out for this weekend?
Will Hearts “put markers”?
Craig Halkett’s dramatic penalty equalization at Ibrox last weekend not only keeps the only undefeated top division team clinging to leaders Rangers’ skirts, but also gives them a chance to take the lead with a win over Dundee.
It could only take 24 hours, but manager Robbie Neilson sees it as an opportunity to “make a mark” against the team that promoted with them last season.
Neilson didn’t see Halkett’s header as he was in the tunnel after a red card triggered a three-game infidelity – and he has to watch from the stands as his players play 10 league games without a loss for the first time since early 2018.
The man most likely to jeopardize that success is Leigh Griffiths, the loaned Celtic striker who hit the mark last weekend when Dundee broke the Premiership duck with a 2-1 win over Aberdeen.
Griffiths scored nine goals against Hearts while at Hibs and Celtic, but veteran ex-teammate Craig Gordon’s form may be key to the Edinburgh team’s brilliant opening and no goalkeeper has made more saves or a higher percentage of saves. as the 38 year old Scottish international.
Will Hibs keep putting pressure on Glass?
Stephen Glass is under pressure as his side take on one of his other former clubs
The position of Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass is a mirror image of Neilson’s, although club chairman Dave Cormack said in a colorful interview with Sportsound that despite five league losses at Spin – and 10. believes in his long-term plan and in his manager winless games in all competitions.
The chants from the fans weren’t so welcome at Dens Park last weekend and Glass desperately needs a win against the visitors who want to get back on track.
Hibernian fell out of the top 4 for the first time in 18 months after receiving a paste from Dundee United on Easter Road.
Derek McInnes had the measure of Hibs, losing only four times to Edinburgh in his eight years at the helm of Aberdeen, but Ross hopes a third straight win against the Dons will keep all the heat on Glass.
Which surprise package will prevail?
The two early leaders of the season’s “surprise package” will meet on Saturday in Tannadice.
United are carried by that brilliant 3-0 win at Hibs, three points that propelled them to third while Motherwell stuck to a top six.
The hosts of Tam Courts discovered their chances of scoring after scoring just five goals in the previous eight games.
But while the guests want to avoid the third defeat in a row after a good start to the season, they are unbeaten on their last three visits to Tannadice.
Will the Saints Stop the Celtic Park Trend?
You can imagine some players placing bets in front of their own fans that Celtic will go wild with a few goals home.
Not only because Ange Postecoglou’s team, who have only won twice in the last eight games, are aiming for their fourth win in a row after beating Ferencvaros 2-0 on Tuesday in the Europa League and had an extra day to spare to recover from group stage efforts.
Not only because the guests of St. Johnstone are fresh from a 3-0 home defeat to Livingston.
But also because the Perth team’s notoriously stingy defensive against Glasgow often left something to be desired.
Although Callum Davidson’s side drew 1-1 at Celtic Park in December, they were the exceptional players in a total of eleven out of twelve defeats against Celtic, in which they scored two goals and conceded a frightening 36 goals.
Saints have played 19 games without a win against the hosts on Saturday since their 2-1 win at McDiarmid Park in May 2016 – and 11 at Celtic Park since the 1-0 win in March 2015.
This trend is not supported by the gun-shy attack from St. Johnstone, as the Perth team have made fewer attempts to score this season than any other Premiership team.
Will County claim their first league win?
Malky Mackay’s Ross County is looking for the first league win of the season
Ross County are sustaining the Premiership after nine games without a win, four at home, and looking to avoid a fourth straight loss overall.
Visitor Livingston ended his own streak of three straight defeats with this stately win in Perth last weekend and ended a streak of five away games without a stylish goal.
They were unbeaten in all four games with County last season and have scored more league goals against the Dingwall team than anyone since the summer of 2019.
If this trend continues, County’s Malky Mackay would be the first coach to fail to win every of his first 10 competitive games since Martin Canning lost to Hamilton Academical in the 2014-15 13 season.
Will the in-sh -e buddies block the Rangers’ progress?
Although the Rangers are still at the top of the Premiership at least until Saturday’s Hearts game, the feeling that the Rangers are not the force they were when they won the title last season became perh -s due to Hearts’ late equalizer last weekend Ibrox underlined.
Steven Gerrard’s side will arrive at Paisley after taking some weight off their shoulders with their first Europa League group win of the season, beating Brondby 2-0 at home on Thursday.
The downside was the possibility of having to reorganize the defense on Sunday as central defender Leon Balogun was at risk of injury after being weaned against the Danes.
One of the last trips they’d want, given the circumstances, after a painful midweek game, is to a team that has been unbeaten in six games and is aiming for a fourth straight win. St. Mirren have only beaten Rangers once in their last 15 games, but last December in Paisley – 3-2 in the League Cup.