Celtic hopes to make up ground on Rangers

Celtic has been unable to keep pace in place Rangers sits at 12 points as the schedule approaches December.

But Neil Lennon's side secured an important win before the international break against Motherwell and travel to last-place Inverness on Saturday in the first of two league matches this week that could help close the gap.

The best case scenario for Celtic is that Rangers' 24-game league unbeaten run ends against St. Johnstone at Ibrox on Saturday, and the Bhoys can win both of their matches to close within six points.

More realistically, Celtic can just hope to turn the one game in hand, against promoted Dunfermline on Wednesday, into three points to trim the deficit under double digits.

But first, Celtic has to take care of a tricky fixture at Inverness, which has struggled this season but hammered Kilmarnock 6-3 in its last match before the break.

Celtic left Tulloch Stadium last May with a loss, 2-1, as Inverness followed a 2-2 draw at Celtic Park with a surprise home win late in the season.

Bhoys midfielder Kris Commons knows his side will not overlook this weekend's opponent, even though it has just 12 points from 14 matches this season.

"When you do go to Inverness, it's a sort of atmosphere which you dread when you're not quite at the races," Commons said. "You can quite easily concede goals.

"It's not a nice place to go and play football."

And Lennon was impressed with Inverness' performance against Killie, and knows his club could have its hands full this weekend if it isn't completely focused on the match.

"We've had them watched and done a bit of analysis of their last match against Kilmarnock and they were fantastic," he said. "They were full of energy, full of quality and they could have scored more than six."

"Bearing in mind they're playing at home as well, it's going to be tough."

Rangers tests its 14-match, season-long unbeaten streak - and 24-game streak - against St. Johnstone, which is just seven points out of second place.

St. Johnstone will debut its new manager, Steve Lomas, making the squad a bit of an unknown, but Rangers remains the overwhelming favorite with its domestic form currently unmatched.

"I'm looking forward to the game this weekend. Any time a club has a new manager as St Johnstone do, that team has a bit of an edge," Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra said.

"It's huge for sides that come to Ibrox as well so we need to show the same intensity and desire we have been and hopefully that will see us through."

Also Saturday, Aberdeen hosts Motherwell, Hibernian hosts Kilmarnock, Saint Mirren hosts Dunfermline, and Dundee United hosts Hearts.