Celtic v Dundee
Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone saw Celtic drop their first league points of 2013, with Saints unfortunate not to take all three points after two seemingly legitimate goals were struck off for offside.
The dismal display followed what many thought of as the Hoops’ best performance of the season so far, putting six past an in-form Dundee United, just days after the disappointing Champions League defeat to Juventus. Celtic are available at 11.00 to stage a backlash and beat Dundee 4-0.
Sunday’s clash with Celtic sees Dundee start life without manager Barry Smith, after the 39-year-old parted ways with the Dens Park club on Wednesday. Having failed to record a single win in their last 12 league fixtures, leaving Dundee slumped at the foot of the SPL table, his departure is perhaps unsurprising, yet it’s difficult to imagine anyone keeping the Dee in the top flight. Not even Jimmy Calderwood, who has been linked with the vacant post.
Smith’s replacement is unlikely to be in place for Sunday’s visit to Celtic Park, meaning Dundee will be managerless and directionless for their most daunting fixture of the season. They are available at 8.00 to pull off a shock draw at the home of the champions.
Dundee United v Hibernian
After a blip against Celtic, that came in the form of a 6-2 defeat, Dundee United’s resurgence under new manager Jackie McNamara continued with Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Motherwell. As has often been the case this season, Gary Mackay-Steven and goalscorer Johnny Russell carried the Tangerines to victory.
Only two points separates eighth place with second in the SPL table and should United win against Hibs on Sunday, they could in theory, climb six places. Dundee United are available at 2.00 to beat Hibernian.
Hibernian’s 2013 slump is having an impact on their season. Their reliance on Leigh Griffiths has been exposed and since the on-loan Wolves striker’s form has cooled, so too has the Hibees’.
Pat Fenlon’s side are struggling to find the net, having scored just twice in five league games this year, but should Griffiths rediscover the form that saw him notch 16 times earlier in the season, as he did in the 1-0 win over St Mirren,
then Hibs could quickly reverse their recent poor run of form. Hibernian are available at 3.50 to register their first win on 2013.
Ross County v Motherwell
Ross County might be experiencing their first ever top-flight season but they are conducting themselves like seasoned veterans. The Staggies continue to impress as the season wares on.
County are yet to suffer defeat in the new year, taking 14 points from a possible 18. Ivan Sproule’s renaissance with the Highland club continued in last week’s win over St Johnstone, with the Northern Irishman scoring the only goal of the game, his fourth in as many matches.
The Staggies are just a point shy of the top six and having put a 21-point gap between them and the foot of the SPL table, their place in the top flight looks all but assured. County are available at 3.10 to record their fifth win in seven league games.
Motherwell might have suffered defeat to Dundee United on Tuesday night, but the return of James McFadden means an air of positivity has engulfed the club. The return of McFadden to Fir Park might offer a sad summary of an unfulfilled career but for Motherwell they have signed a player who has the ability to solidify second spot for them (they currently sit level with Inverness).
With Jamie Murphy departing the club in January, McFadden’s signing will fill a gap in the Motherwell attack, although manager Stuart McCall has warned that the former Everton player will take some time to reach peak match fitness. Motherwell are available at 3.00 to keep a clean sheet against Ross County.
Back over 4.5 total goals between Celtic and Dundee at 3.35
Back Dundee United to keep a clean sheet against Hibernian at 3.15
Back a draw between Ross County and Motherwell at 3.30