Although it’s still very early in the season, it’s beginning to feel like we might be in store for a rare title race in Scotland.
Celtic have won the last seven Scottish Premiership titles, often with consummate ease. They’ve been so far ahead of the rest of the pack that it’s been hard for outsiders to get excited about the football played north of the border.
But after six rounds of matches this term, things are looking very different.
Celtic have got off to their worst start to a season for 20 years after picking up 10 points from their opening six games. Brendan Rodgers’ side subsequently find themselves sixth in the table.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers also ensured a poor start but have recovered brilliantly since their 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park before last month’s international break and climbed to second place with an emphatic 5-1 demolition of St. Johnstone last weekend.
But out on top, five points clear of the rest, are Hearts. Craig Levein’s side have won five of their six matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding just two in the process.
As things stand, things are wide open. Celtic remain the bookmakers’ favourites to win the title but they’re now priced at 1/3 to get the job done - long odds by their standards.
Rangers are now 10/3 while Hearts can still be got at odds of around 25/1, despite their excellent start.
Sutton gives honest view of the job Gerrard has done
Few people saw this coming - although former Celtic striker-turned-outspoken pundit Chris Sutton said back in August that he felt Rangers could challenge for the league if Celtic failed to sort out their defensive issues.
Sutton is Celtic through and through but after the first six games, he’s been forced to speak honestly about Gerrard and what the Liverpool legend has achieved in such a short space of time at Ibrox.
He told BBC Sport: ”[Celtic have] left the door open for the likes of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers - and Celtic fans won't like me saying this, Steven Gerrard has transformed Rangers and they do have a real inner belief about them."
That’s right: even if other former Celtic players and fans would be reluctant to admit it, Gerrard has indeed transformed Rangers since his arrival in the summer.
Even the most optimistic Rangers fan thought the possibility of seriously challenging Celtic this season was a little far-fetched.
But thanks to Gerrard, who has worked tirelessly on improving the team since his appointment, everything now feels possible.
Sutton, meanwhile, has been more damning with his assessment of Celtic.
"The manager has to take responsibility - bottom line, too many players aren't playing up to the level, they aren't scoring enough goals and, for Brendan to come out and say he is alarmed, is alarming in itself," he added.
"It's an enormous couple of weeks for him.
"They need results quickly because it has been flat this season and hasn't been very good," Sutton said.
"It is all very well having a double treble in the bag, and in that respect he will get time, but they need to sort themselves out quickly.”News Now - Sport News