ABERDEEN vs. CELTIC
The demands of top level European football is taking its toll on Celtic’s domestic aspirations. At least that’s what the players will have you believe. Following last week’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, just four days after the sensational Champions League win over Barcelona, defender Kelvin Wilson insisted his teammates are not complacent about their chances of retaining their SPL title. Neil Lennon’s side have taken just two points from their last nine and defeat to Aberdeen will provoke further scrutiny of Celtic’s league form.
The Hoops have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four league fixtures and are available at 1.65 to continue that defensive record against Aberdeen.
Niall McGinn left Celtic in the summer after failing to fulfill his perceived potential, but now he’s arguably the SPL’s most in-form player, scoring in every one of his last six games to fire Aberdeen to within a point of the league champions.
Along with Jonny Hayes, McGinn has added flair and creativity to a squad that desperately lacked it last season, with the Dons averaging over two goals per game so far this season. Over 2.5 total goals between Aberdeen and Celtic is available at 1.95.
DUNDEE vs. HIBERNIAN
Few expected anyone other than the current SPL champions, Celtic, to be top of the table this far into the season. Even fewer, if any, expected Hibernian to be the side sitting atop the pile.
The Easter Road side have enjoyed a frankly astonishing start to the season, suffering just three defeats and heading into the November international break two points ahead of Celtic.
Leigh Griffiths’ incredible goalscoring form, which has seen him net 12 times in as many games this season, earned him a call-up to Billy Stark’s Scotland squad for the midweek friendly against Luxembourg. However, Griffiths form has been facilitated by the similarly impressive form of Paul Cairney and David Wotherspoon, with both players laying on assists in last week’s 2-1 win over Dundee United. Over the course of their last nine league games Hibs have averaged over 3 total goals per game and are available at 1.65 to continue that trend with over 2.5 total goals.
Dundee manager Barry Smith insists his side are now finding their feet at Scottish football’s top level, and after following up their win over Hearts with a commendable point away to Motherwell last week he may be right.
Celtic academy graduate Nicky Riley has quickly become Dundee’s talisman, earning his side the point at Fir Park with a neat finish past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph.
Dundee have recorded just two wins this season, both 1-0 wins, and are available at 15.00 to register a similar victory over Hibs.
HEARTS vs. ST MIRREN
If those in charge of Hearts are to be believed, there was a chance this fixture would never take place. Just last week a statement from the club warned fans that the Gorgie side might not survive beyond the end of the month due to an unpaid tax bill of almost £450,000.
In the end an extension was agreed with HMRC and the club lives, although a supporter driven bid to buy Hearts is being negotiated.
It’s been a challenging month for manager John McGlynn on the pitch too. The Jambos required a stoppage time penalty from Marius Zaliukas to salvage a rather undeserved point against Inverness last week. It was just their second point in four fixtures, a winless streak that includes a second defeat of the season to SPL bottom side Dundee.
As McGlynn has publically recognized, his side are struggling for a potent presence up front, relying on teenager Callum Paterson as a lone striker. Subsequently the Jambos have scored just 13 times from 13 games this season and could sink to second bottom with defeat on Saturday. Hearts are available at 4.20 to fail to find the net.
St Mirren too have endured a dismal run of form and are without a win in the league since an epic 5-4 victory over Ross County in September. The Buddies’ attractive style of play has become insipid of late, lacking cutting edge with could be attributable to the loss of three attackers over the summer.
At the back things haven’t been so solid either, conceding 21 times in their last seven league games. The Saints haven’t kept a clean sheet since a 2-0 win over Hearts in September, demonstrating the Edinburgh’s feebleness in front of goal this season, and are available at 4.20 to keep Hearts out.
Back both Aberdeen and Celtic to score at 2.00.
Back Hibernian to be beating Dundee at half time at 2.40.
Back a draw between Hearts and St Mirren at 3.30.