How the Bookies See it:
- Winner (w/o Celtic): Aberdeen 10/1, Rangers 10/1, Hearts 80/1
Aberdeen - Following the demise of Rangers in 2012, when the club was placed in administration, Aberdeen have provide to be Celtic’s main competition, finishing second to the Glasgow team in the last three seasons. However, the Dons, who finished a staggering 30 points adrift of the Bhoys in the last campaign, have never really looked capable of sustaining a decent title challenge, even with the hugely popular Derek McInnes at the helm. The former West Brom midfielder recently rejected an approach from Sunderland and is clearly focused on toppling Celtic at the fourth time of asking.
Rangers - Defeat to Progrès Niederkorn, a team who had only ever scored one goal in European competition, has left Rangers’ players and fans in a state of shock and led to calls for manager Pedro Caixinha to be shown the door, less than four months after taking charge at Ibrox. Despite returning from the brink of extinction, the Gers failed to deliver last season as they finished third, 39 points behind bitter rivals Celtic. April’s 5-1 thrashing on home soil to the Hoops proved how much the gulf in class has grown since the two teams regularly contested for domestic honours.
Hearts of Midlothian - Since returning to the Scottish top flight in 2015, Hearts have proved to be quite successful. An impressive third placed finish in their first season back was followed up with another cracking start to the 2016/17 campaign; however, boss Robbie Neilson’s departure in November 2016 hit the Edinburgh club hard, as Ian Cathro struggled to adapt to his new role as manager. The Jam Tarts eventually finished fifth and with 19 fewer points on the board, something that the club will need to address if they are to beat off competition for second place this term.
The Others - St Johnstone, who were the last team to beat Celtic in the league, have finished amongst the division's top six teams every year since 2011 and the Perth side could be dark horses this time around as they look to improve upon their fourth place finish last time out. Punters may also show a lot of interest in Hibernian’s chances of an explosive return to Scotland’s top tier. Manager Neil Lennon has previous experience in the Premiership with Celtic and has already guided Hibs to the Championship crown. Elsewhere, despite being priced at 500/1, could the likes of Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle or Ross County mount a serious challenge for the runners-up spot?
Celtic will win this season’s Scottish Premiership title. There is no doubting that Brendan Rodgers’ men are head and shoulders above the rest of the division, with last season’s unbeaten run proving just that. In fact, the 48-time rulers of Scotland are just 6/5 to clinch the league title every year until the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
As for which team will ‘challenge’ Celtic next term, Aberdeen look to be the most well equipped at 10/1 to top the table. Derek McInnes’ men won’t win the league, but should finish second for a fourth straight year. However, if Rangers were to bring in another manager to replace the clearly ineffectual Pedro Caixinha, there may be some hope for the Ibrox outfit.
- Sports.net top tip: Aberdeen to finish 2nd.
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.