The new football season still resembles the opening stages of a 10,000 metre race as teams jockey for early position in a mix of elbows, pushing and hesitancy which ensures that as yet, no discernable pattern has emerged.
Some problems are, however, already evident, including St Johnstone’s surprising inability to secure a win. One point from four matches is hardly ideal preparation for the visit of Dundee United, a team they have been unable to beat in the league since August 2000.
Given this fixture’s recent record, bookies do not give the Saints much chance of winning, BetVictor.com pricing them at a massive 27/10 to register three much-needed points; even the draw is offered at 5/2 (Stan James).
The pair faced each other four times in the league last term. While St Johnstone secured a credible goalless draw at Tannadice, they lost all three at home, conceding 14 goals in the process. Little wonder that Paddy Power’s even money for tomorrow’s match to yield more than 2.5 goals has proved so popular.
Aberdeen and St Mirren played out three draws last term – no surprise there. Only one of their last 13 meetings has been settled by more than one goal. The other twelve were either drawn or ended with the narrowest margin of victory for one side. BetVictor.com price the likelihood of another stalemate at 12/5 as Stan James posts 6/1 against it finishing 1-1.
Celtic scored 11 times against Hibs in three SPL fixtures at Parkhead last term, conceding only once. William Hill install the champions at 2/9 to secure three points tomorrow, whereas Hibs are offered at an enormous 16/1 by Skybet. It’s worth noting that the Edinburgh team did draw with Celtic at Easter Road, but Paddy Power’s 8/11 for the champions to lead at the end of both halves and bet365’s 8/5 for them to win when kicking off with a two goal deficit are difficult to ignore.
Ross County and Kilmarnock last met in the Scottish Cup almost 50 years ago when Killie won 7-0, but they head to the Victoria Park Stadium as bet365’s 11/4 underdogs tomorrow as Ross open as Skybet’s 6/5 jollies.
On Sunday, Hearts host Dundee at Tynecastle in a fixture they kick off as BetVictor’s 1/2 favourites. The pair have not met since 2004-05 (when they drew 1-1), but it would be a surprise if the points were shared in this one. Ladbrokes price Hearts at 4/9 to open the scoring, while bet365 chalk an attractive 13/2 about a 2-0 home win.
Motherwell have held a slight advantage over Inverness in their meetings over the past couple of seasons in what have tended to be open affairs. This probably accounts for the support given to bet365’s 11/10 odds posted in favour of the game’s total goal minutes exceeding 135, although bolder punters are apparently content to take advantage of the 7/4 Skybet offer against Motherwell retaining a clean sheet.