Jamie Langfield believes his former Aberdeen team-mates can run Celtic much harder to the title this season.
The Dons came up 17 points short last term, but for much of the season were right on the Bhoys’ coattails in one of the strongest Premiership bids in recent years.
They’ve since agreed new deals with Ryan Jack and Barry Robson, in addition to the loan-signing of Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward, and the arrival of highly-rated defender Graeme Shinnie from Inverness.
35-year-old Langfield spent 10 years at Pittodrie before departing this summer, and says manager Derek McInnes now has a squad capable of a sustained title challenge.
“I think Derek has gone for squad rotation and, where he had only 12-13 starters, now there’s possibly 15-16 and he can afford to take players out, give them a rest and re-charge their batteries,” Langfield told BBC Scotland.
“Every position, they’ve got two Premiership players there and I think they’ll be a lot stronger this season.”
With Hearts enjoying a fine start to the campaign on their return from the Championship, it’s not just the Dons who will be looking to upset the order this term, something Langfield, who won the 2014 League Cup with Aberdeen, sees as only a positive thing.
“I hope Hearts – and Dundee as well – can do Aberdeen a favour and take points off Celtic.
“I think Aberdeen and Hearts will run Celtic very close, especially Aberdeen’” he added.
Much of Aberdeen’s deficit to Celtic last season can be attributed to two things; a four-game winless run to round out the season, and the failure to take any points off Celtic in their four meetings.
Langfield, now in a player-coach capacity at Championship St Mirren, doesn’t think that will be happening this season though, especially on home soil.
“I definitely believe Aberdeen will take points off Celtic, especially at Pittodrie.
“Aberdeen have more steel about them this season, and I think it will be a lot closer than it was last season.”
Celtic are still heavy 1/40 favourites for another Premiership title in May, but they may not have it all their own way this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.