Aberdeen 1.95, the draw 3.35, Kilmarnock 3.60
Much has changed at Pittodrie over the summer. Gone is veteran manager Craig Brown, who has been replaced with former St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes. Most crucially for the Dons, top scorer Niall McGinn hasn’t followed Brown out the Aberdeen door, signing a new two-year contract with the club.
On top of this McInnes has made a number of impressive additions, with Gregg Wylde joining on a free from Bolton, along with Barry Robson from Sheffield United and Willo Flood from Dundee United. Without even kicking a ball Aberdeen have become one of the favourites for the coveted runners-up spot and are available at 1.95 to get their campaign off to a winning start.
The summer has been a little more treacherous at Kilmarnock. They too start the new season with a new manager, following the sacking of Kenny Shiels. Club legend Allan Johnston will take his place in the dugout on Saturday in the face of continued protests over chairman Michael Johnston’s ownership of the Rugby Park club.
With Cillian Sheridan leaving the club over the summer Killie look to be a little short of firepower and are available at 2.40 to not find the net against Aberdeen.
Celtic 1.25, the draw 5.65, Ross County 10.00
Just as was the case twelve months ago, Celtic’s focus will be on Europe this season. With Neil Lennon’s side in the middle of their Champions League qualification campaign they could even rest a number of key figures for Saturday’s opener against Ross County.
Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama have left the club for the Premier League, giving Lennon a sizeable transfer war chest. He has so far chosen to strengthen his backline, bringing in Virgil Van Dijk, Amido Balde and Steven Mouyokolo, as well as winger Derk Boerrigter from Ajax. It could be a new-look Celtic we see against County on Saturday and the champions are available at 2.20 to score over 2.5 goals.
However, Ross County stung the SPL champions on more than one occasion last season and having held on to the majority of the side that took the Staggies to a fifth place finish, Derek Adams will be looking for a result at Parkhead to kickstart another impressive season.
Iain Vigurs may have left to sign for Motherwell but Richard Brittain’s decision to stay in the Highlands, despite initially signing a deal with St Johnstone, will give County a timely boost. Adams appears to have kept together the spirit of the team that impressed in their first ever top flight season and County are available at 5.65 to take a point home from Parkhead.
Hibernian 3.15, the draw 3.30, Motherwell 2.20
Pat Fenlon hasn’t even uttered his first league team talk of the season but his position at Hibernian is already under threat. Last week’s 7-0 defeat to Europa League qualification opponents Malmo FF, in front of over 16,000 fans at Easter Road, has placed Fenlon under pressure, with some supporters calling for the Irishman’s head.
Leigh Griffiths carried Hibs at times last season and Fenlon has failed to find the kind of player to compensate for that lack of creativity in attack. That could prove costly – for Fenlon himself as well as his team. Hibs are available at 3.15 to take all three points against the Steelmen, reflecting their poor form as they enter the new season.
As is frequently the case, Motherwell are preparing for the new campaign without a number of last season’s key players. Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa, Darren Randolph, Chris Humphrey and Nicky Law have all left Fir Park over the summer and Stuart McCall faces a tough task to replicate last season’s second-place finish.
The signing of Iain Vigurs from Ross County gives Well one of the best central midfields in the league and the signing of James McFadden to a new contract means they could also boast the best all-round forward too. McCall’s side are available at 2.85 to be winning against Hibs at half-time on Sunday.
Back Aberdeen to score over 1.5 goals against Kilmarnock at 2.12.
Back Celtic to win both halves against Ross County at 2.75.
Back Motherwell to beat Hibernian 2-0 at 10.00.