Scottish football: Celtic, Moussa Dembele, Coulibaly, Aberdeen, Miller

By Rob MacleanBBC Scotland
Moussa Dembele
Moussa Dembele has taken his scoring tally for Celtic into double figures before September is out

BBC Scotland football commentator Rob Maclean reflects on six things we can glean from the weekend's Premiership action.

The top tier's 1-11 split

The Scottish Premiership split is already happening. But don't worry if your team's in the bottom half.

I'm not talking about that top six-bottom six thing that takes place at the tail end of the season.

What I'm on about is the top one-other 11 split that's now well under way in our leading league.

Celtic are four points ahead of their nearest "challenger" after only half a dozen matches. The margin would already be seven if they had played and won their home game against bottom club Partick Thistle which they postponed last month.

And seven is the number of points which separates the Jags and second-placed Aberdeen.

That's everyone else bar the soon-to-be runaway leaders.

Celtic are averaging nearly four goals per game in the Premiership. Their scoring total is more than double the next best.

If you're looking for a contest, try the battle for the other European places and the fight against relegation.

The young pretender

There could well be competition for Leigh Griffiths in this campaign as he bids to defend his title as Celtic's top scorer.

He hit the net 40 times last season but, while Griffiths has been out injured recently, missing four games, Moussa Dembele pulled out into the overtaking lane.

The 20-year-old former Fulham striker has scored six times in his last five matches to blast his way into double figures and leave goal machine Griffiths playing catch-up.

Celtic's number nine did get a goal on his return to the team, off the bench, in the 6-1 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday although he could have matched Dembele's double had he taken a penalty rather than hand the ball over to record-chasing Scott Sinclair.

Griffiths was out on his own as leading marksman last time around. This season, there looks to be a young French rival for his crown.

Souleymane the Magnificent

We found out at Celtic Park how deadly Kilmarnock's Souleymane Coulibaly is from 44 yards.

Sportscene got out their measuring tape and that's how far the Ivory Coast-born 21-year-old was from goal when he hammered home that sensational strike.

Some Celtic fans were questioning the goalkeeping of Dorus de Vries as the Dutchman was left clutching at thin air but I think the television evidence tells us we should be erring on the side of a special goal.

Shame Souley didn't mark it with one of his acrobatic celebrations. Presumably he thought the goal was spectacular enough in its own right.

A great week for the Dons

Aberdeen have found a winning mentality in September to change the complexion of their start to the season.

Three wins in little over a week have hauled them up to "best of the rest" in the Premiership and taken them to next month's League Cup semi-finals.

All three victories have featured late goals. Two in the last 13 minutes at Dens Park to beat Dundee, Adam Rooney's 90th minute winner against St Johnstone and James Maddison's expertly flighted free-kick right at the death to get all three points against Rangers.

Did Aberdeen deserve to win all three games? Probably not. But that will give Derek McInnes & Co added satisfaction.

Toughing it out when the team's far from firing on all cylinders, and finding a winning spark, is a vital ingredient for the Dons.

Miller time

Kenny Miller
Kenny Miller is still showing flashes of class for Rangers at 36

Veteran Kenny Miller produced a touch of class at Pittodrie on Sunday to remind Rangers that he's still one of their best attacking options.

With a lack of composure in front of goal proving costly for Mark Warburton's team - Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and Jason Holt all failed to convert decent opportunities - the former Scotland striker came up with the most incisive moment of the match for Rangers.

Just off the bench, 36-year-old Miller delivered a dream of a pass to Lee Wallace who was fouled by Jonny Hayes for the penalty from which Rangers equalised.

Quality up front was an issue for the Ibrox team, as they bossed the midfield for much of the match and still lost, but not as pressing a problem as their still fragile defence.

That's an ongoing weakness that needs addressing.

One-third Scottish at centre-back

Aberdeen defenders Alex McLeish and Willie Miller slide in to tackle Celtic's Davie Provan and Charlie Nicholas.
February 1983 (Celtic 1-3 Aberdeen): Aberdeen defenders Alex McLeish and Willie Miller slide in to tackle Celtic's Davie Provan and Charlie Nicholas

If Gordon Strachan is looking to improve Scotland's central defensive options, he needn't waste too much of his time watching Scottish Premiership action.

Of the 24 players who filled those positions for our 12 top-flight teams at the weekend, only eight were the right nationality. And none of our top sides had an all-Scottish pairing in the middle of defence.

The eight who do qualify were St Johnstone's Steven Anderson, Kilmarnock's Scott Boyd, Partick's Liam Lindsay, Motherwell's Stephen McManus, Paul Quinn of Ross County, Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds, John Souttar of Hearts and Rangers' Danny Wilson.

Oh, for those halcyon days of Alex McLeish and Willie Miller at Aberdeen, the Dundee United double act of Paul Hegarty and David Narey, and lots of other home-bred defenders when we were spoilt for choice.

Where have the great Scottish defenders gone?

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