Dundee 4.50, the draw 3.60, Dundee United 1.72
Numerous derbies across Europe are labeled ‘the friendly derby’, but not many are forced into being amiable like Dundee and Dundee United are. Just 100 yards separates the two clubs on Tannadice Street, making Dens Park and Tannadice the closest two grounds in Britain.
Dundee head into the second Tayside derby of the season in reasonably good form, despite last week’s defeat to relegation rivals St Mirren. Seven points from their last four league games has seen them close the gap at the foot of the SPL table, although five points is still the difference between them and safety.
Barry Smith’s inexperienced squad finally appear to be finding their feet in Scotland’s top flight, although defensive errors are still a concern: they've kept just one clean sheet since the opening day of the season. Dundee are available at 4.70 to shut-out Dundee United on Sunday.
Dundee United have found themselves embroiled in a war of words with Rangers this week, after the Glasgow club asked fans to boycott their team’s cup tie against the Tangerines at Tannadice in February over a dispute due to unpaid ticket money that dates back to last season.
United have looked more like the team of last season of late. Despite narrowly losing out to Motherwell in their last league game Peter Houston’s side are steadily climbing the table and now lie just four points off the top four. Gary Mackay Steven’s return to health and Johnny Russell’s return to form have been key factors in United’s resurgence and the two will be integral to Houston’s attacking game plan against Dundee on Sunday. United are available at 2.30 to be winning at half time.
Hearts 2.40, the draw 3.20, Aberdeen 2.80
Hearts manager John McGlynn’s admission that his side finds it difficult to score was meant to act as a rallying call to his players; an opportunity to prove him wrong. However, since then things have arguably got worse in front of goal for the Gorgie side.
The Jambos have drawn a blank in their last three fixtures, a streak, which includes a historic defeat to city rivals Hibernian in the cup last week (Hibs hadn’t beaten Hearts in the cup for over 30 years). With creativity at a premium McGlynn has focused on molding a conservative, hard to beat team, and barring a 4-0 defeat to champions Celtic, Hearts haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game since October.
Yet this reliance on the defence places huge pressure on lone striker Callum Paterson to take the few chances that come his way, and with just three goals from 21 games this season that pressure might be too much for the 18 year old. Under 2.5 total goals between Hearts and Aberdeen is available at 1.65.
While Aberdeen continue to enjoy a successful season there is a sense of disappointment over their last result in the league. The Dons could’ve gone top of the SPL (albeit temporarily) with a win over Inverness at home, but instead Craig Brown’s men contrived to lose 3-2. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that for only the second time in eight league games Niall McGinn failed to find the net. The Northern Irishman has been arguably the best player in the division so far this year, giving Aberdeen a creative edge they lacked so dearly last season. However, the Pittodrie side has only kept one club sheet away from home all season and as a result are available at 1.30 to continue that trend.
St Mirren 2.80, the draw 3.20, St Johnstone 2.40
St Mirren were often lauded as the ‘Barcelona of Scottish football’ last season. Their attractive yet thoughtful style of play was refreshing to watch, and furthermore it was getting results. Despite operating on one of the smallest budgets in the league the Paisley side finished 18 points away from relegation in eighth place, ahead of teams like Aberdeen and Hibernian. But Danny Lennon’s men have taken just one win (against Dundee) from their last eight league fixtures and indeed the former Cowdenbeath boss might well be thankful for Dundee’s participation in the SPL this season come the end of the season.
In the battle of the Saints it is St Johnstone who undoubtedly come in as the form team, having strung together a run of form that has seen them suffer defeat only twice in 12 games. The physical presence of Nigel Haselbaink, Gregory Tade and Rowan Vine in attack has given the Perth side another dimension, and with midfielder Murray Davidson, arguably their most accomplished performer, also finding form Steve Lomas’ side are genuine contenders for a European spot this season. St Johnstone are available at 14.00 to win 2-0.
Back Dundee United to beat Dundee 2-1 at 8.25.
Back Aberdeen to keep a clean sheet against Hearts at 3.25.
Back St Johnstone to be beating St Mirren at half-time at 3.00.