Celtic face either Aberdeen or Newco in the Scottish Cup semi-final on 13 or 14 April. Both potential opponents must have developed a nervous disposition at facing Celtic at Hampden recently, such as been the imperious form of the champions. This draw is perfect for Celtic.
In the event they overcome Aberdeen in the quarter-final, Steven Gerrard’s men have a punishing schedule before the semi: Hibs (a), Aberdeen (h), Kilmarnock (h), Celtic (a), Hearts (h), Motherwell (a). That’s each of the other top six teams in succession, followed by a trip to Fir Park, where they dropped points earlier this season. If Gerrard has hopes of winning the Cup, he would have wanted Celtic at the end of the season, when he would be able to rest some legs.
On Sunday Derek McInnes all but accepted Aberdeen were out of the title race. They are now 16 points off the pace, although they have an easier run immediately before the semi-final date, facing Celtic (a), Newco (a), Livingston (h), Hearts (a), Motherwell (h) and Dundee (a). Their form has dropped off a cliff and were it not for their ability to repeatedly mug Newco in Glasgow this season, they would have little hope of reaching the semi.
Celtic have one game fewer than Aberdeen and Newco (who have a replay), and face Aberdeen (h), Dundee (a), Newco (h), St Mirren (a) and Livingston (h). By the semi-final we should have McGregor, Christie, Rogic, Ntcham and Benkovic back. We will be as ready as we can be.
I’m still working on my nervous disposition when facing Inverness in the Scottish Cup, but that’s for another day.