SPFL Weekend Betting Preview

Football

ByTheMinSPFL

After the entire SPFL fixture card fell foul of the Beast from the East seven days ago Scottish league football returns with a spectacular bang this week. The Premiership will see four local derbies contested across the weekend and there are plenty of important clashes throughout the divisions as the race to gather up vital points in the race for the play-offs and battle to avoid relegation intensifies. Derby games are notoriously hard to predict, especially an Edinburgh derby with natural order at stake and an Old Firm where a confident Rangers go looking for a first league victory over Celtic in an eternity. Nonetheless, here is Alistair Sargent, fresh from a stonking round of predictions a fortnight ago, to try and help you win some cash with your By The Minute betting preview.

HIBS (4/5) v (19/5) HEARTS There is little more incentive needed than local bragging rights being up for grabs. But when you throw in the battle over 'natural order' in the capital then this one has upped the ante. Hearts dumped Hibs out of the Scottish Cup when the sides last met, but were themselves unceremoniously dispatched from the national cup competition last weekend by Motherwell. Hibs, on the other hand, have had a fortnight to prepare for this. They went off like a rocket last time out against Kilmarnock, but ended the game barely resembling a sparkler. Not Neil Lennon of course, he ended it like an atom bomb in the hands of The Donald: seconds away from detonation. Nevertheless, home advantage and a new found forward line, plus the added time to prepare, just about give them the edge here. 4/5 on the Hibs victory is an attractive price. However, in the nine games since these two last faced off Hearts have only failed to score once. By that joined up logic, Hibs to win and both teams to score is a tempting 17/5. With mud slung between the two sides at every opportunity after recent meetings there is certainly no love lost between the two camps. On a Friday night in a raucous atmosphere 9/2 for six cards seems reasonable. 7 cards is 13/2. If you really expect a blood and thunder affair then 10 or over is 16/1. Might be worth a quid.

DUNDEE (7/5) v (85/40) ST JOHNSTONE A massive game between the jute and jam brigades who are both in need of points to drag themselves away from the relegation picture for good. St Johnstone ended a dismal run of form by beating Ross County a fortnight ago but it was back to business as usual for Tommy Wright's men in midweek as they lost and failed to score at Kilmarnock. Only two points separate the teams in 9th and 8th place and there will be little to chose between them at Dens on Saturday. Dundee are averaging 1.07 league goals per game and St Johnstone have managed just 0.89. A goal fest is surely not on the cards. 10/11 says both teams won't score and the stats suggest that could be a wise choice. As for the game itself, the draw at 11/5 perhaps seems the most likely outcome given their closeness in the league standings, but Dundee have won the two previous meetings between the teams this season. They are 7/5 to make it three from three.

HAMILTON v MOTHERWELL Lanarkshire rivals collide at the Superseal with Accies in tenth place the team more in need of the points. Accies stopped the rot last time out, earning a vital three points against Partick to end a run that had seen them lose five on the bounce. Well will be in confident mood having seen off Hearts in the Scottish Cup last weekend. They also won at the Superseal earlier in the season. They look a well priced 9/10 to claim the bragging rights across Lanarkshire. Both teams have goalscorers in their ranks, with Curtis Main and David Templeton both on good net finding form. Main is 7/5 to bulge Accies' onion bag in the game, while Templeton is is 10/3 to score for the third game in a row.

KILMARNOCK (11/10) v (13/5) ROSS CO Ross County are most certainly up the proverbial creek, although they still just about have hold of the paddle at the moment. They showed some major signs of life in thrashing Dundee 4-1 at Dens and then drawing 1-1 with in form Hearts but a 2-0 loss to desperate St Johnstone in their last outing leaves them three points adrift at the foot of the table. Owen Coyle has since left his position as manager and the inxeperienced Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson have taken the reigns. They done a great job with County's academy and development sides but come against a manager who has earned plaudit after plaudit since joining Killie. Fresh from winning the manager of the month award Steve Clarke will expect his Killie side to continue the impressive run of form that has seen them climb to 5th in the league table. 11/10 is a fantastic price for them to beat the league's basement club and should be pounced upon.

PARTICK (18/5) v (4/5) ABERDEEN Much like Killie vs Ross County this game does not need a lot of complicating to bring value. Thistle, with one in seven - and damaging defeats to relegation rivals Dundee and Hamilton thrown in, host the third placed Dons. Derek McInness' side have lost to Celtic and Hibs and drawn with Killie in their last three games. And in each of their two meetings this season they have beaten Thistle by only a single goal margin. But 4/5 for them to make it another victory over Alan Archibald's side still seems incredibly generous. Get it while you can.

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RANGERS (13/5) v (37/40) CELTIC A derby in Edinburgh on Friday, and a derby in Glasgow on Sunday. Scotland's pubs should be, ahem, "lively" this weekend. Rangers are playing well. Celtic aren't really. In the circumstances 13/5 on Rangers might seem a good shout but Celtic, on their day, are far and away the best team in the country, regardless of the levels of anyone else. Graeme Murty's team being on such good form means they will have to be at peak levels to continue their recent dominance of this fixture, and I expect them to find their best form for the occasion. Neither team's defence can be relied upon too heavily though, so pair up Celtic to win and both teams to score and get yourself a handsome 29/10. Things will be frantic as Rangers probably sense their best chance of beating Brendan Rodgers' Celtic. The referee will want to keep a lid on things so 20/23 for the first card to be shown before the clock reads 25:00 seems a tempting offer. And most likely in the thick of the battle will be Celtic skipper Scott Brown. Ever the favourite among the Ibrox crowd, and not shy of taking one for his team, 11/8 on the perennially t-shirted former Scotland captain to be carded at anytime also looks generous.

BEST OF THE REST Along with your single Premiership bets you may like the look of a Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen treble. Some tough to call games in the Championship, League One and League Two but there are still some chances to earn a buck. * St Mirren's runaway Championship train has stuttered ever so slightly of late, losing 4-1 to Livingston and then labouring to a 1-0 home win against divisional whipping boys Brechin in their last game. But they are still massive favourites to gather the league trophy and even money on them taking another step in that direction at home to Dunfermline, now looking an unlikely play-off contender, looks a good opportunity to earn. * The top two collide in League One as second-placed Ayr United host leaders Raith Rovers.This game is too tight to call, as are most of the games in that division. Arbroath at home to Forfar seems the only game where picking a winner isn't a 50-50 call. 4/7 on the Red Lichties isn't the greatest price but should be League One's safest punt. * Montrose, 2nd in League Two with 16 wins from 27 vs Cowdenbeath, bottom of the table with 10 points all season. Too easy to predict. Yet you can pick up 4/5 on a Montrose win. Don' jang about on that one. * Stenhousemuir's League Two form reads win, lose, win, lose, win, lose, win, lose. So the next step should be win, right? 4/5 says that will be the case against Clyde, who have lost their last two. But, and it's a very interesting but. The Bully Wee have lost the last two but against Stirling and Peterhead, two of the league's form sides. Prior to that they have won five on the spin, since a 3-0 home defeat to Stenny. 17/5 looks a good offer for them to break the Ochilview club's win-lose habit.

So there you go. A difficult week to predict perhaps but there is some gold out there. We're just hoping that this preview happens to be the end of the rainbow for you. But don't have Mr T pity you fool. If you're going to have a punt then keep the stake to what you can afford to do without. And no, our friends McBookie won't accept the in-laws or tedious furniture shopping trip as tender! I'm talking cash here people. Keep it sensible, eh!? For help and support visit https://www.begambleaware.org/ Good luck.