Dundee 2.90, the draw 3.10, Ross County 2.40
The "Battle to survive" tag likely to be bestowed upon this game might be slightly careless, at least for one team. Ross County might be embarking on their first ever season in Scotland’s top flight, but they’re making the most of it. Had it not been for an untimely fumble by keeper Michael Fraser, Derek Adams’ side would’ve secured their first SPL win against the champions last week. Instead they had to settle for a point, their third successive draw of the campaign.
The Staggies’ are all about steady consistency; they show defensive strength and resolve but lack attacking creativity or potency. Undefeated County might have made a positive start to life at the top, but their return of just one goal from three games will have to be improved upon, regardless of their prowess at the back.
Dundee might have joined Ross County in winning promotion from the First Division, but the gap between the two sides is bigger than last term's points difference indicates. The Tayside club were always likely to struggle this season, after learning of their promotion just two weeks before the start of the new campaign, but manager Barry Smith would’ve hoped for his side to respond slightly better to top flight standards. In one way, Dundee have suffered the same problems as Ross County, having failed to notch a single goal in their opening three games. The difference is that while County’s rearguard has offset their attacking ineptitude, Dundee’s hasn’t. They've quickly sunk to the foot of the table. Not many expect them to shift from there any time soon.
Greenock Morton 2.35, the draw 3.00, Falkirk 3.00
Rather strangely for a team managed by a man who polarises opinion among Scottish football fans, Falkirk have become neutrals' favourites since the appointment of Steven Pressley two years ago.
As intense a figure off the pitch as he was on it, the former Hearts and Scotland defender has devised the blueprint for the future of the sport in Scotland - if you believe a gushing media. His system of complimenting a productive youth academy with shrewd transfer activity has seen comparisons drawn with Arsene Wenger’s method of management at Arsenal.
However, the Bairns have made a poor start to the season, losing their opening two games as they struggle to replace front man Farid El Alagui, who left the club over the summer. Replacements, like Lyle Taylor, have been brought in but have yet to demonstrate their Division One suitability. Some might say the Arsenal parallels continue. Pressley will be hoping that comparison doesn’t extend to a sacrifice of success at the price of his principles.
Inverness 6.00, the draw 3.80, Celtic 1.53
Considering the challenge (or lack thereof) to Celtic’s league supremacy this season, Neil Lennon could be forgiven for being slightly distracted from domestic issues right now. The club’s campaign is likely to be judged on European succes, and after Tuesday’s 2-0 first leg win over Swedish side Helsingborgs, the Parkhead side are just one game away from the promised land: the Champions League group stage and a £8 million windfall.
With the prospect of top level European football looming, Celtic’s defence of their SPL title has got off to a stuttering start. A gaffe by Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield and a last gasp equaliser at Ross County from Kris Commons, Celtic’s most impressive performer so far this season, has preserved the Hoops’ league dignity for now, but another Highland trip will prove another tough test for the champions.
Since taking control at Inverness three years ago, former England defender Terry Butcher has developed a resilient and solid side who revel in proving doubters wrong. Lennon may face more formidable opponents on the continent, but Inverness still strike fear amongst Celtic fans.
Back a draw between Dundee and Ross County at 3.10.
Back Falkirk to beat Greenock Morton at 3.00.
Back under 2.5 goals in Invernes v Celtic at 1.85.