Scottish Premiership mid-term report - comparing this season with last

The top four sides in the Scottish Premiership are split by three points, with the season just past the halfway point. But how does that compare to last season?

And what of the bottom of the division, where three teams are currently separated by four points as the winter break pauses play?

BBC Scotland looks back to this time last year, compares the differences and gets the pundits' opinions on what has changed and how the table might look come the end of the campaign.

Celtic slump or others improving?

Graphic of Premiership table

At the onset of last season's winter break, more games had been played and eventual champions Celtic led nearest challengers Aberdeen by eight points. Rangers were three further back, while Kilmarnock had just crept into the top six and Hibernian were five points clear of Edinburgh rivals Hearts.

Come mid-May, Celtic would finish nine clear of Aberdeen and the three-point gap between Derek McInnes' side and Rangers would remain. Hibs were a further three points behind and Kilmarnock's impressive form under Steve Clarke took them above Hearts.

Graphic of Premiership table

This season, Celtic have nine points fewer - albeit they have played 20 games compared to 22 - and their advantage at the top is only goal difference after losing to Rangers last month. Brendan Rodgers' side do, however, have a game in hand against St Johnstone.

Steven Gerrard's Rangers have two points more, having played a game fewer than last season, while Kilmarnock are a staggering 15 points better off after the same number of matches.

Aberdeen, who are a further two points adrift, have four points fewer than this time last year, albeit have played a game fewer. And St Johnstone are the other big movers, with Tommy Wright's side eight points better off despite having played one game fewer.

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The league is much stronger - Forrest

'Celtic can't take it easy' - analysis

Former Celtic forward Scott McDonald on Sportsound

The reason why we're having such a tight title race this year is because Celtic have dropped 18 points away from home. It's a ridiculous amount for them. It's going to be interesting to see if Rangers can keep on their coattails. How do Celtic respond because they've not had to deal with someone on their backs at the end of the season for a long time?

Former Aberdeen, Rangers and St Johnstone forward Billy Dodds on Sportsound

Celtic have not just got Aberdeen, they've got three or four chasing them. There's too many teams for them to take it easy and think, 'it's a cruise'. There's teams there taking points off Celtic and those other teams can then go and win their fixtures and sneak back up.

Harder to get points at the bottom

Graphic of Premiership table

The two teams at the bottom after 22 games last term were the same two who went down, with Ross County slipping out of the Premiership automatically and Partick Thistle through the play-offs. Dundee and Hamilton Academical swapped places, as did St Johnstone and Motherwell.

Graphic of Premiership table

This season, the bottom three all have fewer points than their counterparts from last season, again with the caveat that most teams in the division have played one game fewer. County had seven more points than Dundee do - and Thistle eight more than St Mirren.

Tenth-place Hamilton's haul of 14 points would have them three points adrift at the bottom this time last year.

The Premiership resumes with a full card of fixtures on 23 January and Dundee manager Jim McIntyre and St Mirren boss Oran Kearney have already changed their squads as they fight for survival.

'Easier said than done to change things' - analysis

Former St Mirren striker Steven Thompson on Sportscene

Oran Kearney, just before the January transfer window, said he is wanting it to be a busy period for them, but at this time of year it's easier said that done to recruit the right type of player. Livingston have been probably the neutral's favourite team. To come up and do so well as they have done so far this season's been a great story.

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