It’s Saturday again and for the second successive week the full card is being played out on the same day. Strange times indeed! All games are 3.00pm kick offs except at Tannadice, which has a 12.45pm kick off.
DUNDEE UTD v CELTIC in what is probably the match of the day. The visitors arrive on a high, after that tremendous performance and result on Wednesday. Once again, Neil Lennon’s team have qualified for the group stages of The Champions League – a fantastic achievement! Today, however, it is the ‘bread and butter’ of league football – the winning of said league which facilitates the participation of competing with ‘la creme de la creme’ of Europe’s top teams. Celtic will likely rotate their squad for today’s match. There were quite a few players ‘dead on their feet’ after Wednesday’s exertions. I expect a few of them to be rested today and, not for the first time this season, I am in the dark as to which personnel will make up the Celtic squad today. Dundee Utd played during the week as well, overcoming a plucky Dumbarton side in The League Cup. Both Ryan Dow and Calum Butcher are fifty-fifty to make it today although Gavin Gunning is likely to start after serving his two match ban. United got off the mark in the league last week in stunning style with a four goal thrashing of St Johnstone. I do think that there could be a few goals in today’s encounter.
Prediction: home advantage and tiredness for Celtic equates to a score draw for me.
ABERDEEN v ST JOHNSTONE at Pittodrie this afternoon. The Dons have suffered reversals in their last two matches although I believe they have been unfortunate not to have picked up some points from these fixtures. They have quite a lengthy injury list for today’s encounter. Flood, Robson, Magennis, Hayes and Clark are unavailable. St Johnstone have a full squad to choose from apart from goalkeeper Allan Mannus. They will be looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Tannadice.
Prediction: despite their injury list I expect Aberdeen to get back on track. Home win for The Dons.
HIBERNIAN v ROSS COUNTY at Easter Road, both of these teams halting form slumps with victories last week. I still feel that Pat Fenlon is under pressure and any run of defeats could jeopardise his position. He has added Killie striker Paul Heffernan to his squad on a two-year deal. Kevin Thomson is suspended today while McPake, Harris, Clancy and Cairney are injured. County bounced back at home last week but were knocked out of The League Cup by Stranraer during the week. It was the home form of the Dingwall side which saw them having a great campaign last season. This could be tricky for them today.
Prediction: a home win for Hibs to keep Pat Fenlon’s job safe, at least for another week!
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE v HEARTS presents the home side with a great opportunity of maintaining or maybe even extending their lead at the top of the table. The visitors, already playing with a stretched, youthful squad, are further depleted today with the suspension of Wilson and McHattie. They were already missing Ryan Stevenson and I just can’t see them overcoming a confident Caley side with these further absences. I would have fancied ICT to win even against a full strength Hearts side. Terry Butcher’s team sit deservedly at the top, and only a late equaliser from Adam Mathews prevented them from taking all three points at Celtic Park. They are playing with confidence and flair.
Prediction: this is a no brainer for me. Home win for ICT!
ST MIRREN v PARTICK THISTLE at Paisley, in what should be a thrilling, fiercely fought contest. After winning the League Cup last season, Saints manager Danny Lennon finds his job under threat after a dismal run of results. They surrendered that trophy in midweek, Queen of the South putting them to the sword. They have not won a league game since …….. a very long time! Partick Thistle lost their first league game last week but will fancy their chances today. They go into this game without the pressure that is being experienced by their Paisley counterparts.
Prediction: sorry Jags fans, but I maybe putting the hex on your team by tipping an away win for Thistle!
The final game today is at Fir Park this evening, with MOTHERWELL v KILMARNOCK kicking off at 5.30pm. The home side got back to winning ways last week with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle. Lionel Ainsworth may be added to the squad, having signed from Rotheram. Kilmarnock have Kris Boyd available again after suspension. Heffernan has left to join Hibs but Killie have managed to get Gardyne from Dundee Utd on a six month loan. Kilmarnock have been on a terrible run since the latter end of last season and the start of this season. Motherwell know that a victory will put them on nine points and right in the mix for that second spot. The longer Killie go without a win, the more the pressure will build on them and manager Allan Johnston.
Prediction: home advantage will aid Motherwell to a home win.