The Scottish Cup offers a welcome break from league football this weekend, so let’s begin by dealing with those ties which, on paper at least, are broadly categorised as ‘bankers’.
Heading this list are Celtic, William Hill’s 1/12 favourites to overhaul Arbroath at Parkhead. There’s little value for the average backer there, but Paddy Power’s handicap market, where the Hoops are 8/5 to win when kicking off with a three-goal deficit certainly tempts.
Indeed, exploring other handicap markets could be a route to successful punting this weekend, so while St Mirren are an understandably short 1/4 (Ladbrokes) to beat Brechin, they’re a more attractive 8/11 at Skybet to win when starting one goal down. Similarly, Dundee United’s 1/3 to defeat Stranraer is hardly appetising, but bet365’s 13/10 for the SPL side to win when kicking off with a two goal disadvantage holds considerable appeal.
Apart from these three seemingly one-sided contests, the Cup has also thrown six SPL teams together, including Ross County and Inverness who meet for the first time in the competition. Inverness beat the top flight newcomers 3-1 in October and have lost only one away league fixture this season. Nonetheless, they open as Stan James’s marginal 9/5 underdogs with Ross quoted at 17/10 by BetVictor.com.
Aberdeen, who missed a golden opportunity to go top of the SPL table on Tuesday, have a chance to bounce back when hosting Motherwell in a tie they start as BetVictor’s 13/10 jollies. The pair drew 3-3 at Pittodrie in September and Ladbrokes rate the chances of both halves finishing on level terms as a 9/2 shot.
Sunday’s clash involving Hibs and Hearts, last season’s Cup finalists, promises to be feisty. Hibs go into the tie as Stan James’s 13/8 favourites while their neighbours start bet365’s 9/5 outsiders, a rare status for them in derby matches. The pair drew 1-1 at Easter Road in August, but Hibs, who have won more home league matches than any SPL team this term, look decent value to register a 1-0 win (7/1, Skybet), while BetVictor.com posts 10/1 about a 2-1 home success.
Elsewhere, St Johnstone (8/15, bet365) Dundee (6/5, Stan James) and Kilmarnock (8/15, BetVictor.com) should have too much for Cowdenbeath, Livingston and Queen of the South respectively. Finally, at 11/10 (Stan James) to beat Elgin when starting with a two-goal deficit, Rangers look outstanding value.
Handicap treble on Celtic (-3), St Mirren (-1) and Dundee United (-2) – 9/1 (William Hill)
Inverness to beat Ross County by one – 4/1 (bet365)
Hibs to beat Hearts – 13/8 (Stan James)