Pyro and the banner
There is no escaping the debate about pyro in Scottish football. In almost every big match now in this country, fans will set off smoke bombs or use flares, firecrackers or fireworks in the stands. Aberdeen youngster Ryan Duncan was nearly hit by one such object thrown from his own fanbase last weekend at Tannadice, which has poured further petrol on to the fire. While it is hard to deny the visual enhancement such displays provide, there are obvious safety concerns for many other people in the stadium – and also players. The Celtic fans housed in the Roseburn Stand on Tynecastle made sure they got their message across loud and clear on the subject. They unfurled a banner with the words “it’s not going away you know” before letting off a series of green, white and orange flares to make a tricolour above them. They are far from the only support to turn to pyro this week, let alone this season – Rangers’ fans put on a white-sparkler display at Easter Road on Wednesday, and in League One on Tuesday Dunfermline fans celebrated a goal with a black smoke-bomb. It is everywhere. Unlike the noxious political and sectarian singing that only seems to blight both Glasgow clubs, particularly among the away supports. There were plenty of those ditties at Tynecastle once again within the Celtic masses.
Which Celtic star gets player of the year?
Celtic are now odds-on to sweep up all the domestic honours after this win, so it is fair to ask the question: which one of their performers will win the Player of the Year award? There is no outstanding candidate, simply because so many have shone this campaign. On current form, Aaron Mooy – again on the scoresheet – would get it from midfield, but at various points this term you could make a case for Cameron Carter-Vickers, Greg Taylor, Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda. Perhaps Kyogo Furuhashi is the most likely winner, given he has scored 26 goals this term. He should be eyeing 35 in the 12 games set to remain for Celtic across both the Premiership and Scottish Cup. He really is a clever, ruthless forward, scoring once again here with a dainty finish.
Hearts and third place
At the end of January, Hearts looked booked for third place in the Premiership following wins over all their nearest challengers in Hibs, Aberdeen and St Mirren. Yet the gap between them and the chasing pack, led by their city rivals Hibs, is only five points. Out of the cup, the league is now the sole focus. They are still favoured to go on and clinch the best-of-the-rest spot but any doubts could grow if they don’t get a result in what is a pivotal match away at Aberdeen on Saturday. What plays against them is a crippling injury list. Hearts have a big squad but it is only natural they will struggle without Craig Gordon, Craig Halkett, Peter Haring, Beni Baningime, Robert Snodgrass, Gary Mackay-Steven, Stephen Humphrys, Lawrence Shankland and Liam Boyce. Shankland and Snodgrass could return to fitness in time for Pittodrie and they would make such a big difference to a Hearts team that looked a little bit light on experience and quality against Celtic.