Inverness Caley a great price to top all bar Celtic in Scottish Premiership

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When Rangers were banished from the Scottish Premier League, while it may have appeared to make the march to title little more than a stroll for Celtic, the race for the second place slot well and truly opened up.

And this season has been a real slobberknocker in the quest for that first Europa League qualifying slot.

That’s not to say that Celtic have wrapped up the title before Christmas.

The Bhoys have been notably shaky this campaign and sit top of the pile on goal difference.

But at 1/40, the bookies fully expect them to step it up a gear and claim their 46th Scottish title.

The real competitive race could be in behind them with Aberdeen an 11/8 shot to triumph in the ‘Betting without Celtic’ market.

That is despite sitting in fifth, four points off Inverness Caledonian Thistle in second.

And anyone that remembers last season will be wary about backing the Dons to top all but Celtic.

The Pittodrie club spent much of the season, from November onwards, with the Glasgow side just ahead of them, but on the last day of the season a 1-0 home defeat to Motherwell handed the second spot to their rivals.

They have a history of capitulating later on in the season as well. In 2012-13, at the same stage of the season as we are now, Aberdeen sat in third, three points off second. But a disastrous mid-late season saw them miss out on the top six altogether.

So if there is no value in Aberdeen then where should you be looking?

The obvious place to look would be the side currently level on points with the all-conquering Hoops.

Well, you would think so, but at 7/2 Inverness aren’t fancied by Ladbrokes to stick around in the upper echelons of the table.

But this could be a grim underestimation of John Hughes’ side, with that price looking very tempting.

Even those who took the bet each-way would be in slight profit if they ended up third.

Caley have already beaten Celtic this season, as well as defeating fourth-placed Hamilton twice, and scoring victory by the odd goal against Dundee United in sixth. They did go down 3-2 in a thriller away at Aberdeen but on their own patch could gain revenge.

Getting results against sides in and around them could be key to bagging second (or better), especially with the Dons losing to Hamilton Academicals and Dundee United.

Thistle are going through a decent spell of form, having booked their spot in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup with an easy 4-0 victory against St Mirren, and dispatching Hamilton and Motherwell with ease in the league.

If they can continue to build on that, they look a great price to stick around in the top two for some time to come.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.