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Baxter's men are in Crues control

Is the league title race over? No, but if Crusaders beat Cliftonville on Boxing Day and go 11 points clear at the top they will take a giant step towards retaining the title.

I know Crues boss Stephen Baxter will rightly play things down and only look to the next game but do any of us really believe the champions will lose four or five matches from January to the end of the season?

Given their stunning form over the first half of the campaign, it appears highly unlikely their bubble will burst.

Crusaders have impressed me again this season because they know how to get a result. They are very dangerous going forward and excellent from set-pieces but their back four and goalkeeper Sean O'Neill are also class acts and like good championship winning sides they know how to dig out results. There is genuine pace in their team but they can also mix it when they have to.

Cliftonville's defeat at Glentoran surprised me as the Reds also know how to close out a game and it puts more pressure on them.

The Crues are flying and if they can win on Boxing Day they will be virtually impossible to stop.

Belfast Telegraph

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