Aberdeen’s involvement in the League Cup Final at Hampden Park over the weekend presented Rangers with a chance to move up into second spot in the Scottish Premiership.
Given Celtic’s utter dominance, the key race in Scotland this season already revolves around which side will chase the Hoops home.
Rangers, along with the Dons and Hearts, seem destined for a three-way dance in this particular market.
Mark Warburton’s team required a late cameo from sub Joe Dodoo to get the win that moved them into second when they faced Partick Thistle at Firhill on Saturday.
That success moved the Ibrox outfit two points clear of Aberdeen having played a game more. No love will be lost between these rivals and they now cannot be separated in the ‘betting without Celtic’ market – each being offered at 23/20 with ComeOn!
At this stage, it is probably still worth siding with Aberdeen to finish ‘best of the rest’. The cup final once more highlighted the gulf that exists between Celtic and the pack, but Aberdeen have routinely been a lot better than what they showed at Hampden.
Both Rangers and Aberdeen have recorded seven league wins this season (the Dons from just 13 games, compared to Rangers 14). Of those, Aberdeen have won four times by more than a single goal compared to just two such victories for Rangers.
The Light Blues two clear wins have come in the confines of Ibrox, 2-0 and 3-0 over Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock – the sides currently occupying the bottom two places in the table.
Aberdeen, meanwhile, have put four past Killie at Rugby Park and the same margin of victory took them beyond Ross County at Pittodrie.
Their most recent league outing was a come-from-behind 3-1 win away at Inverness. They simply seem to have more goal threat than Rangers at this point.
Warburton’s team are adjusting to the step up in class in the Premiership while there is also some weight to the theory that other sides will raise their game a degree to face Rangers.
Having proved over the last few seasons that they are Scotland’s second-best side, this is a good time to maintain faith in Aberdeen, with the clubs set to clash in Glasgow on Saturday.
Aberdeen recorded a last-gasp win when they met in September and this should be another full-blooded collision with little to separate the pair.
Hearts will not want to be discounted from the race just yet. They host Rangers on Wednesday evening and a three-point return there would help the Edinburgh side along nicely.
Hearts are 23/4 in the ‘betting without Celtic’ market but unless they can uncover a level of consistency not yet shown, they will struggle to go the pace with Aberdeen and Rangers.