Scottish Premiership: What did we learn from the weekend's games?

It is still tight at the top, with the Old Firm leading the way, but there were plenty talking points from weekend 13 in the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic and Rangers both recorded 2-0 victories, but perhaps the surprise came at the bottom of the table as managerless Hearts and Hibernian both recorded emphatic victories.

Here are the 12 takeaways from those talking points and across the other matches.


Celtic show depth of squad

Fresh from their victory over Lazio on Thursday, Celtic looked comfortable as they returned to domestic action against high-flying Motherwell.

While Stephen Robinson's side were well-disciplined and stayed in the fight at Celtic Park, Neil Lennon will be thrilled with what was another composed performance. Lennon made changes to his starting line up with the likes of Olivier Ntcham and Jeremie Frimpong brought in, while Lewis Morgan and Ryan Christie got a run out from the bench.

With the league so tight and European football after Christmas already secured, it will be interesting to see how the Northern Irishman uses his squad as the league - and the League Cup final - takes even greater priority in the coming weeks.


Rangers beat Livi at their own game

In September, Steven Gerrard was a frustrated figure even as his side defeated Livingston 3-1. For 45 minutes, they could not turn their dominance into goals. They then fell behind to a Steven Lawless penalty and only wrapped up the points in the final 20 minutes, helped somewhat by Lyndon Dykes' red card.

A fixture like their trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena is often a test in how to break down a stuffy defence. In West Lothian, the problem is amplified by an unforgiveable plastic pitch and a Livi side keen to go direct.

So Rangers matched them at their own game. For the first goal, they raced forward quickly from deep, outnumbered Livi's back line and found space for Joe Aribo to run on to. At the second, Alfredo Morelos may have got the benefit of the assistant referee's call, but it was similar tactics. A quick ball forward and his pace then ability to move the ball on to the other foot in an instant brought his 22nd goal of the season.

In a title race where, at the moment, every point is a prisoner, winning ugly at a venue where rivals Celtic faltered could prove crucial at the end of the season.

Alfredo MorelosAberdeen

Stability key for McInnes

In midweek, as Derek McInnes was asked about the managerial vacancies elsewhere in the Premiership, he said: "If you look at the two clubs in Scotland, Hearts and Hibernian, in my time here I think Hibs are looking for their sixth manager and I think Hearts are looking for their fifth manager. I have been here for six and a half years."

An early exit from the Europa League and League Cup was followed by drubbings from Rangers and Celtic as Aberdeen toiled. But there was little question the Dons board would stick by their man and the stability for which many of their rivals long appears to be paying dividends again.

Saturday's 3-1 win away to Ross County means Aberdeen have now won three games on the spin. They have taken 12 points from their last 15, scoring three goals in three of them - and all against fellow top-six sides. The wins over Motherwell, Kilmarnock and now County sends an ominous warning that they may not threaten Celtic and Rangers at the top of the Premiership but, now that they are back in third, they could prove tough for the rest to shift.

Lewis Ferguson and Ryan Hedges of AberdeenMotherwell

Is it time for Gallagher with Scotland?

Despite playing a part in the build up to the hosts' first goal, the impact of Declan Gallagher was significant for Motherwell in the game at Celtic Park. The former Livingston centre-half was commanding, athletic and full of conviction in front of a Celtic front line that has already ripped teams apart in Glasgow's east end this season.

Gallagher is in his second Scotland squad but has yet to receive a cap after being an unused substitute against Russia and San Marino last month. With further defensive headaches befalling Steve Clarke, surely now could be the time for Gallagher to be called upon? The Scotland boss has already said now is not the time to experiment, but Gallagher looks like a solid option.


Killie stop rot, but for how long?

October was a great month for Angelo Alessio. He led his Kilmarnock side to three wins from their first three games of the month. His poor start to life as Killie boss seemed a distant memory as he was awarded the manager of the month award.

The only blot on that record was a loss away at Motherwell right at the end of the month. That was until their trip to Pittodrie just a few days later, when they lost 3-0.

So Saturday's home game against Hamilton Accies - a team without a league win in five matches - represented a great chance to return to winning ways. They couldn't have got off to a much worse start, however, and rightly found themselves 2-0 down inside the opening 25 minutes. But they recovered.

A point is no disaster - it keeps Killie in fifth place in the Premiership and prevents a third consecutive loss, but if they have aspirations of qualifying for Europe this season, it is the sort of game where they need to be taking maximum points.


County 'shooting themselves in foot'

Ross County did most things right against Aberdeen. For the second week in a row, they scored early. They defended well and barely gave 16-goal Sam Cosgrove a sniff.

However, at the end of the 90 minutes, they had lost 3-1, having conceded goals from two free-kicks and an Andrew Considine strike. That now means they have shipped 19 goals in six games and, although it hasn't cost them their top-six spot yet, they have not won in seven games.

"We feel we're shooting ourselves in the foot at the moment," said co-manager Steven Ferguson on Saturday.

"We need to stop that and we need to ensure we stop it quickly because it's becoming a little bit frustrating."


Livingston need a plan B

Gary Holt's side enjoyed a 2-0 win over champions Celtic at the beginning of October after their direct style rattled Celtic while responding to every forward foray from the visitors with a sharp counter attack of their own.

However, since then, they have failed to win any of their following five games. Two draws with Premiership strugglers Hearts and Hibs - and three defeats. Before that Celtic win, they had lost four league games in a row.

Against Rangers, they tried to go direct again, with the aim of bringing Lyndon Dykes into the game. But he was well marshalled by centre-half Connor Goldson.

When that did not work, Livi looked out of ideas. "It's the worst performance since I've come here," said Holt afterwards. "We were passive. I can't say no one tried, they all put in a shift, but we were disjointed. We weren't hunting in packs and Rangers were."


Doidge shows potential with statement hat-trick

In Hibs' first game since the dismissal of Paul Heckingbottom, they looked like a different side. This was the free-flowing outfit for which their fans had been crying out.

Caretaker boss Eddie May partnered Florian Kamberi and Christian Doidge together up front at McDiarmid Park on Saturday and his decision was totally justified. Kamberi assisted Doidge in his first two goals and proved to be a thorn in the side of the hosts' throughout. The only thing missing from his game was a goal - and he deserved one. As for Doidge, the big Welshman didn't have a league goal to his name at kick-off on Saturday afternoon. Come full-time, the striker had three and the match ball.

Until Saturday, the summer signing had looked shot of confidence and was often the scapegoat in Hibs' poor start to the season, but he couldn't have looked further from that in Perth. It was a true striker's performance and it may well be the turning point in his career north of the border.

Hibs first win since... graphicHearts

That winning feeling returns

Whatever happens for Hearts in their manager search, supporters - and players and staff - will feel like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders after this enthralling win over St Mirren.

A seven-month wait for a home league win was delivered at last and their seemed to be a bond between players and fans that has perhaps been missing in recent difficult months. Fit-again Steven Naismith, as well as getting on the scoresheet, was a commanding figure. The Scotland forward could be seen cajoling his team-mates throughout this bizarre game.

There is, though, still room for improvement. Some shocking defending, including a howler from Christophe Berra, allowed St Mirren to have two lifelines in this game.


Accies lack discipline

Thirteen league games played. Five red cards. If Hamilton had kept 11 men on the pitch at Rugby Park, they most likely would have beaten Kilmarnock. They were by far the brighter of the two teams in the opening half-hour and raced into a two-goal lead. While the goals were moments of individual inspiration from Mickel Miller and Steve Davies, Accies were good value for it.

When Sam Stubbs was sent off for bringing down Eamonn Brophy on 29 minutes, it was a feeling all too familiar for Brian Rice. Mohamed El Makrini's shot squeezed through goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams and Brophy's volley just after the break turned the game on its head. Only the determination of Fon Williams to atone for his earlier error prevented Accies leaving Ayrshire empty-handed and with yet another suspension to deal with.

"We're getting used to it," Rice said after the game. "We seem to be getting players sent off all the time, and it's not for malicious things, it's wee things."

While Rice admits that it's something they need to look at and address, his comments sound a bit like an acceptance. If they continue to receive red cards at this alarming rate, they will find themselves deep in a relegation battle.

St Johnstone

Saints back to reality after home drubbing

After back-to-back wins over Hamilton and Hearts, St Johnstone's season looked to be back on track. However, Saturday's humbling at home to Hibs will have further highlighted the Perth side's deficiencies to boss Tommy Wright.

A side that's renowned for being tough to beat at a ground that's renowned for being a tough place to go looked far from that on Saturday as the Saints looked uncharacteristically soft and conceded cheap goals.

Wright said afterwards that he had "emphasised the point of trying to be on the front foot" only for his strategy to be undone by "gifting" goals with "a lot of individual errors".

St Johnstone graphicSt Mirren

Reality bites for St Mirren

Three defeats on the bounce have brought the stark reality of St Mirren's plight into sobering view.

A 2-0 win over St Johnstone last month now seems like a distant memory for Jim Goodwin's side, credible defeats to Kilmarnock and Celtic doing little to mask the fact they are rooted to the foot of the Premiership.

After a worrying spell in the League Cup, there were signs St Mirren were getting their act together and had the ability to pull themselves out of trouble. At Tynecastle, they hit the net twice but were ultimately overpowered by a team without a manager.

Two home games follow after the international break. Points need to start being put on the board if things are going to look up.

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