PA Sport

Celtic still favourites for title says Scott McDonald

Celtic still favourites for title says Scott McDonald
By PA Sport

14/01/2019 at 13:07Updated 14/01/2019 at 14:31

A 1-0 win for Rangers over their rivals before the winter break reignited their title challenge.

Rangers are impressing with their January recruitment but Celtic remain favourites for the title, according to former Hoops striker Scott McDonald.

Steven Gerrard’s side ended the year with a morale-boosting 1-0 home win over the Parkhead men to go level on points at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with the reigning champions, albeit having played a game more.

The Ibrox club have signed 36-year-old striker Jermain Defoe on loan from Bournemouth while Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis, 34, has rejoined his former club from Southampton with Dundee’s Glen Kamara and Kilmarnock’s Jordan Jones having signed pre-contract agreements.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, for his part, has bought 22-year-old Ivory Coast forward Vakoun Issouf Bayo from Dunajska Streda while signing 18-year-old USA international Timothy Weah on loan from Paris St Germain and 21-year-old Oliver Burke on loan from West Brom.

McDonald, speaking at a William Hill event at Hampden Park, told Press Association Sport that while he has been impressed by Rangers’ activity in the transfer market, he still currently sees Celtic having the edge.

The former Australia attacker, these days a pundit, said: “You have to look at the experience Rangers have brought in and say,  who is going to hit the ground running and it would be Rangers, wouldn’t it?

“Steven Davis has been here and done it before. He is an exceptional footballer, probably underrated in a lot of aspects and obviously Jermain Defoe coming in and adding that quality in front of goal.

“Celtic have signed a lot of youthful talent and it is a question of whether or not they can hit the ground running.

“Coming to Scotland is a little  bit different, even probably for Jermain.

“Teams are going to be playing banks of fours and fives but if you give him half a yard he will take it, that is the quality he has even at 36. He is going to be a huge threat.

“I do still make Celtic favourites because they have been there and done it in previous seasons. They have a game in hand, they are still in control.

“The only argument you can have with that is how they deal with the pressure if Rangers hold on and go neck and neck with them.

“Even when Aberdeen were getting tight with Celtic I think Celtic would have believed they were going to win the title regardless.

“But with Rangers on their tails, the seriousness of them, the players they have brought in, the manager they have now, there is a real threat to their title now.

“So it is how they respond and they react to that. There is going to be a lot of really good psychological warfare going on from now to the end of the season which is going to be an interesting watch.”