Scotland set for last-day drama
After another season of twists and turns the destination of the Scottish Premier League trophy is still in the balance and will once again be decided by a final day showdown on Sunday.
Rangers, who hold a two-point advantage over their Old Firm rivals Celtic, know that a win away to Dundee United would see them being crowned champions of Scotland for the first time in four years. Celtic, who at one stage enjoyed a seven-point lead in the league, host third-placed Hearts at Parkhead needing a win and hoping the Gers slip-up.
Such a dramatic finish to the season has become the norm in Scotland in recent years, with four of the past seven title races going down to the wire. Both teams have stuttered towards the finishing line with the lead changing hands three times in the past two weeks.
Rangers know the chance to win the title is in their hands but their task is not as straightforward as it may seem, with the Ibrox club having failed to win at Tannadice in three years. The Arabs need a point to secure their spot in next season's Europa League with Aberdeen breathing down their necks, but Celtic's superior goal difference means a draw is not good enough for the Gers if the Hoops win at Celtic Park.
Despite being within touching distance of the trophy, Rangers striker Kenny Miller knows United will provide tough opposition for Walter Smith's side. "Dundee United are a very strong side and still have a European place to go for," he said.
"They also had to watch Celtic lifting the trophy at the end of last season which can't be nice, so they will be doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn't happen again. But if someone would have said to me at the start of the season (that) this would be the situation, I would have grabbed it with both hands."
One player who might find himself with a role to play at Tannadice is out-of-favour former captain Barry Ferguson. The midfielder came off the bench against Aberdeen on Saturday to make his first appearance since 21 March following the infamous 'Boozegate' affair.
Ferguson was punished by the club for an early-morning drinking session and his conduct while on international duty and may well leave Ibrox at the end of the season. However, as one of only a handful of members of the current Rangers squad who have won a league title, Smith may call on his former skipper's experience to help them claim victory.
Emotions will be running high in Glasgow in Sunday with fans at Parkhead tuning into radios to find out how their rivals are doing in Dundee. And Greek striker Georgios Samaras has added to the powderkeg atmosphere by claiming that Rangers will be undeserving champions if they beat United.
"Last year they were seven points clear and we won the title, and I said that we were the better team," Samaras said. "Now I will go the opposite side. If they are going to win it, I don't think they deserve it. If they are going to win it, then fair play, it's our mistakes (that let them do so). But I think we are a better team than Rangers."
Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has been handed a boost by the news that Gary Caldwell and Scott Brown, who haven't been able to train this week, will be fit for the clash against the Jambos.
The relegation issue will also be resolved on Saturday. Bottom two clubs Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Falkirk clash in Inverness and only a win will be good enough to save the visitors from the drop.
Fixtures (1130GMT unless otherwise stated)
Inverness CT-Falkirk, Motherwell-Kilmarnock, St Mirren-Hamilton,
Aberdeen-Hibernian (1200GMT), Celtic-Hearts (1200GMT), Dundee United-Rangers (1200GMT)