HEARTS vs. KILMARNOCK
For teams short of confidence and momentum, one result can alter the course of a season. Just look at Hibernian’s form since a derby day draw against Hearts last month.
For both Hearts and Kilmarnock the hope is that convincing wins last weekend will spark a sudden surge up the SPL table. Unfortunately for them, they face each other at Tynecastle on Saturday, meaning for one side at least, that surge will have been short-lived.
After manager John McGlynn’s candid confession that his side struggle to find the net, Hearts’ 3-0 win at Tannadice last weekend came as something of a surprise. It was the first time the Edinburgh side had scored three times in a match this season. That was until Wednesday night, when they put three past Livingston in the League Cup. The Jambos are available at 18.00 to repeat the three goal feat against Killie.
Similarly, Kilmarnock, a side also struggling for goals, also put three past a team most expected to provide tough opposition, St Mirren, last weekend, offering hope that matching last season’s achievements might not be beyond Kenny Shiels’ men.
But while Hearts’ display of surprising attacking prowess might have been a product of Dundee United’s continued slump in form, a build-up of frustration in front of goal and a touch of fortune, Killie’s new-found potency can be put down to an active effort to improve their attacking options.
Despite signing on at Rugby Park just days before, former Celtic and St Johnstone striker Cillian Sheridan has already shown himself to be the attacking focal point Sheils’ side had been missing, netting on his debut. This up-turn in fortune in front of goal means both teams to score is available at 1.95.
INVERNESS vs. DUNDEE UNITED
Dundee United’s season makes a compelling study. After an impressive 3-0 win over Hibernian on opening day, Peter Houston’s team appeared every bit genuine contenders.
Since then the Tangerines have recorded just a single league win in five games, continuing with last week’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Hearts, leaving them slumped in seventh place.
Scotland Under 21 winger Gary Mackay-Steven’s absence through injury since opening day has been a factor in United’s deterioration, but clearly there are other issues that need addressed at Tannadice. Such has been the slump in United’s form, they have yet to notch a single goal in September, and with the Tayside club heading north to Inverness on Saturday, a completely goal-less month is available at 3.60.
For Inverness, scoring hasn’t been a problem; they’ve found the net eleven times in just seven league games this season. Yet a glance at their lowly 11th place league position indicates a problem somewhere. A closer examination of the table will reveal Caley Thistle, while scoring freely, are also conceding freely.
Strangely, Terry Butcher’s side have only been defeated twice this season, by virtue of their on-form strikeforce. However, their shoddy defence means they have yet to register a league win in that time.
Despite this, the Highland side have shown a tendency to snatch late goals so far this season, going in behind at the break in four of their seven league fixtures. Dundee United to be winning at half-time is available at 3.00.
MOTHERWELL vs. CELTIC
This fixture will always be remembered for its part in a day that became known as ‘Helicopter Sunday.’ Two stoppage time goals from ‘Well striker Scott McDonald snatched the title away from Celtic on the final day of the 2004/2005 season, with the SPL trophy heading by chopper to Edinburgh from Fir Park, where Rangers were playing, and celebrating.
Now these two clubs are in direct competition with each other
Had it not been for a late capitulation at Aberdeen last week, Motherwell would be heading into this fixture with the assurance that regardless of what happens they would still be top of the SPL come full time. As it happens, Stuart McCall’s side face champions Celtic in a top of the table clash, in the truest sense; winner takes top spot.
Motherwell striker Michael Higdon has been one of the surprises of the season so far, scoring seven times in just four games to make him the league’s top scorer after seven games. His goals have propelled his side to the top of the table and will be key if his side are to record a league win against Celtic for the first time in five matches. Motherwell are available at 24.00 to repeat that game back in February 2011, when the Steelmen won 2-0.
With Champions League distractions momentarily cast aside, Celtic’s season finally appears to have found its groove. Last week’s dominant 2-0 win over promoted side Dundee put them within two points of top spot Motherwell. And with Hibs facing a tricky away tie against Aberdeen there is a genuine chance Neil Lennon’s men could be where most expected them to be from the outset by the end of the weekend.
A 4-1 thumping of Raith Rovers in the League Cup provided more evidence that the Hoops are starting to find their best form. Over 3.5 total goals scored between Motherwell and Celtic is available at 3.10.
-Back Hearts not to score against Kilmarnock at 3.70.
-Back Dundee United to beat Inverness at 2.45.
-Back Celtic to beat Motherwell 1-2 at 8.00