WHAT can we expect for the rest of the Premiership this season? With Celtic having wrapped up the title by the proverbial country mile, you’ll get very few takers on them slipping up at home to city rivals Rangers in this weekend’s Scottish Cup clash.
So, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on matters at the other end of the league and the battle to stay in Scotland’s top division.
Following the 33-game split, we know the six teams that will be fighting to keep hold of their top-tier status over the coming weeks and with only 10 points covering Kilmarnock in seventh and Inverness in 12th and final place, it promises to be some struggle.
This being the case, a glance at what the experts are saying on tipster sites like Free Super Tips might be useful before putting down any wagers. However, with the gap between the teams relatively small, and taking Dundee United’s collapse last season into consideration, it would take a brave man to predict who’ll fall through the trap door this time around.
Momentum, as always, will be key and all the sides involved will be desperate to start the second phase of the season well.
Ross County and bottom-of-the-table Inverness Caledonia Thistle are first up with a Friday night fixture at Dingwall. County finished four places and eight points better off than their visitors at the split and beat their opponents twice, 3-2, before the recent 1-1 draw in the Highlands.
This season been a tough baptism of fire for rookie top-flight boss, Richie Foran, and rumours about his future are growing louder by the day. Those dissenting voices are likely to only get louder after Friday night.
Hamilton Academicals, the bookies’ perennial favourites for the drop, finished the first phase of the season in ninth place – two below Saturday’s opponents Kilmarnock. Both teams have drawn two of their last three games and two of the three meetings between them ended in stalemates. No prizes for guessing our prediction here then!
The other bottom-six game also takes place on Saturday. It features Motherwell and Dundee – sides who finished just two points apart in 10th and 11th place respectively. ‘Well moved out of the relegation play-off spot with a 4-2 win over Inverness, but the 5-1 home defeat suffered at the hands of Dundee at the end of February is still fresh in the memory.
Since then, though, Dundee have been badly out-of-sorts. They sunk to a new low when they conceded seven at home to Aberdeen in the middle of their current seven-game losing run. This cost manager Paul Hartley his job earlier this week and he has been replaced by Sky Sports pundit Neil McCann. If McCann fail to turn that losing streak with a result at Fir Park, Dundee’s odds for the drop will be cut drastically.
Sunday sees Hearts take on Patrick Thistle in the only top six fixture this weekend. Hearts finished four points ahead of the Jags during the first phase despite losing 2-0 at Firhill a couple of months ago. At present, they can’t buy a goal, scoring just one in their last five fixtures, whilst the Jags have won three, drawn three and lost just twice since then. There is never much between the teams when Partick play, so a 1-0 win for Alan Archibald’s side might be a shrewd pick.