CELTIC vs. ST JOHNSTONE
With no genuine title challenger to contend with, it was always likely to be the case, but after Wednesday’s sensational win over Barcelona at Parkhead, Celtic’s season, no matter what happens now, will be defined by the nights under the Champions League floodlights.
Celtic’s season, in Europe and domestically, has also been defined by two players in particular, both of who excelled against the Catalans. Victor Wanyama and goalkeeper Fraser Forster have marked themselves out as outstanding talents this season. Many say they’re destined for a bigger stage than the SPL, but both players have become integral to any success at Celtic Park.
The Hoops have only been ahead at half time once in their previous four league fixtures and are available at 1.62 to be winning at half time against St Johnstone.
Yet despite Celtic’s historic, and frankly daunting, result over Barca there is plenty for St Johnstone to draw optimism from as they head to Parkhead. Just two weeks ago Kilmarnock showed that the SPL champions are susceptible to a European hangover, winning at Celtic Park for the first time since 1955 after the Hoops had taken Barcelona all the way at the Camp Nou during the week.
Saints themselves have enjoyed success against Neil Lennon’s side over the past two seasons, with the Perth side tasting victory in East Glasgow last year, as well as consigning the Hoops to their first league defeat this season.
The signings of Nigel Hasselbaink and Gregory Tade has given the Saints presence in attack where it had been missing before and could be a factor if they are to do what Barca couldn’t, and return from Parkhead with something to show for their efforts.
St Johnstone are available at 5.50 to draw with Celtic.
HIBERNIAN vs. DUNDEE UNITED
Such has been the performance levels of Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian side this season it was something of a surprise when Billy Stark’s Scotland squad, announced on Wednesday, didn’t include any Hibs players.
The interim Scotland boss ignored the form of Leigh Griffiths, who has scored 11 times in his last ten games, and David Wotherspoon for next week’s friendly match against Luxembourg. Of course this is likely to be of great concern to Fenlon, who can now preserve his key players over the international break, but the surprise at which their omission was met illustrates how far the Easter Road side have progressed this season.
Hibs have only kept three clean sheets this season, although two of those have come in their last four league fixtures. They are available at 3.70 to shut out Dundee United.
It might have taken until the SPL schedule repeats itself, but Dundee United’s season finally appears to be underway. A 3-0 win over Hibs on opening day had some suggested the Tangerines could even make a title challenge this season. They then embarked on a five game winless streak that took them to second bottom of the table. Now, they are unbeaten in four, having snatched a draw against Celtic last week and recorded wins over St Mirren and Motherwell.
The return to form of Johnny Russell has been a timely one, and Gary Mackay-Steven’s recovery from injury has given United an extra dimension and quality in attack.
Dundee United are available at 8.75 to record successive 1-0 away wins.
MOTHERWELL vs. DUNDEE
Dundee’s Dens Park dressing room walls are adorned with the words of pundits and so-called experts who predict the Dee are nailed on for the drop. And up until last week it would’ve been difficult to argue against them.
However, a 1-0 win over Hearts (their second win over the Jambos this season) has given Barry Smith’s side hope of proving the critics wrong, although with five points still separating them from the nearest side (St Mirren) this result must act as a springboard.
Colin Nish has added SPL quality to a squad that is largely the same one that finished second in Division One last season, but some of those alleged second tier players are starting to assert themselves at the top level, like Matt Lockwood who netted the winner against Hearts.
Dundee are available at 6.25 to make it successive league wins against Motherwell.
For Motherwell, the past week could be taken as a synopsis for their season so far, securing an impressive 3-1 away win at in form St Johnstone, only to lose at home to Dundee United in midweek.
Jamie Murphy finally broke his scoring duck for the season against St Johnstone, netting twice, leaving just Henrik Ojamaa as the only member of Motherwell’s formerly formidable front three without a league goal this term.
The Steelmen haven’t kept a clean sheet since the opening day of the season and are available at 6.75 to stop Dundee from scoring.
- Back both Celtic and St Johnstone to score at 1.86.
- Back a draw between Hibernian and Dundee United at 3.25.
- Back Motherwell to beat Dundee 2-0 at 7.50.