The 3 Matches That Could Define Celtic’s Season

When you are looking at the fixture lists for Celtic, there are always a few matches that jump out to you as potentially season-defining. Matches against Rangers can usually be earmarked as the most important of the domestic campaign, but beneath that would usually be a trip to Tynecastle, and yesterday’s events can be something Celtic fans are reflecting on at the end of the season, whether they lift the league title or not.

Celtic had been gift-wrapped a tremendous opportunity to return to the summit of the cinch Premiership just a matter of weeks after being pushed off of their perch with a home draw against Kilmarnock, all they had to do was defeat Steven Naismith’s Hearts side.

Things got off to the worst possible start as an Adam Idah penalty miss came shortly before a red card for Yang Hyun-jun, all coming within the first 16 minutes which set the tone for what was a dismal afternoon for all representing the club.

That was Celtic’s first big opportunity to return to the top of the table after a rare Rangers stumble, but they couldn’t capitalise on it.

Brendan Rodgers stated after the 7-1 victory over Dundee last week that things start to get fun when there are just 10 games to go, and there are sure to be plenty more twists and turns to come in this title race, but what could be the next few season-defining matches for Celtic?

Two derbies still to play
As previously mentioned, fixtures against Rangers are always some of the most important on the fixture calendar, and in a derby that always has high stakes, the stakes have been raised even further with the potential for the pendulum to swing either way in the title race.

Celtic will first have to make the trip to Ibrox on April 7th, just over a month away. Before that, Celtic will need to make their way through a home fixture against St Johnstone followed by a trip to lowly Livingston unscathed to ensure they are still within touching distance when this comes around.

Now the ideal scenario for Celtic would be a victory, and given Brendan Rodgers’ success against Rangers this season he will no doubt be going all out for a victory, but even a draw may be enough for Celtic if they can keep a good record up heading into the final derby of the season at Celtic Park, a match that could potentially have everything on the line.

Potential Trip to Rugby Park
A ground that strikes fear into the heart of the Celtic support, and seemingly now this current crop of players as well.

A trip to Kilmarnock had become a formidable task under the overachieving Steve Clarke side, but following his departure it seemed like Celtic had exercised their Rugby Park demons.

However, Derek McInnes has restored the fear factor at Rugby Park, with Celtic seeing two defeats coming from their two trips to Ayrshire under Brendan Rodgers this season.

High-flying Kilmarnock look all but set to secure a top-six finish, which would mean another trip to Rugby Park for Celtic that the team has to win this time around.

James McKenzie // @JamesWHMcKenzie

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