Motherwell v Livingston (Premiership)
Goals have been the order of the day in recent matches between Livingston and Motherwell, with six of the last eight meetings between these clubs producing at least three strikes. Indeed, last season all four of the matches between these otherwise low-scoring clubs produced fireworks in front of goal, with 14 strikes in total.
The prospects of another exciting match have been boosted by the appointment of Stevie Hammill as Motherwell manager. The indications are that the Well will become a more offensively minded unit, which was played out in their 3-2 victory against Aberdeen last weekend.
Gone is the one-dimensional approach that was shown under Graham Alexander, with a more technical and exciting game being favoured by the new management. It means more risks and that should mean more goals – at both ends of the field.
Meanwhile, Livingston have not been shy about being involved in entertaining fixtures so far this season either. Five of the seven competitive matches they have played have produced at least three goals, albeit four of these encounters have either been 2-1 for or against them. Striker Joel Nouble is the man in form, having scored against both Rangers and Hibs so far this season.
These clubs more recently met in April in West Lothian, with the teams playing out a 2-2 draw on that occasion as Motherwell fought back from two down to secure a share of the points. Expect more of the same.
St Johnstone v Aberdeen (Premiership)
Historically, this has been a tie that has produced very few goals, but Aberdeen are more attack minded under Jim Goodwin this season than they have been in the recent past, and the prospect for goalmouth action in this game is higher than the odds would give it credit for.
For a start, Aberdeen have invariably been involved in high-scoring matches so far this season. Four of their last five competitive outings have produced at least three goals, while each of the last two have seen five scored in each game. They were disappointing against Motherwell last weekend in a 3-2 loss, but while their attack functioned well, it was their defence that posed them issues. They will travel to Perth with few solutions to those headaches as they have a number of injury issues in that area.
St Johnstone, too, have been involved in some more open games than they have typically been used to under Callum Davidson. Four of their last six matches produced at least three goals, albeit they were on the wrong end of a 4-0 reverse against Rangers last weekend. Defensively, they are certainly not the most secure side and have conceded at least once in every league game they have played. Given that Hibs and Motherwell have both hit the target against Saints, Aberdeen are more than capable of finding a breakthrough.
Only one of the last 14 fixtures between these sides has seen at least three goals, but given the long odds and the recent matches of both clubs, there is value to be found in backing it to happen again.
Celtic v Hearts (Premiership)
Celtic play Hearts at a fortuitous juncture in the season, though given the record of the Parkhead club against their Edinburgh opponents in recent years, that is perhaps irrelevant. Although the Hoops lost the opening match of last term at Tynecastle, they went on to beat Hearts on four successive occasions last term.
Now, though, they have a chance to enhance that record further. Hearts will have one eye on Thursday’s European return match against FC Zurich at Tynecastle, having lost the first leg 2-1, while they are also in the unfamiliar position of having to juggle European and domestic football. This should play into Celtic’s hands.
Ange Postecoglou’s side are far stronger on paper in any case, but throw this into the mix and it is an additional advantage over the side that is clearly third strongest in Scotland. Celtic look absolutely formidable thus far, recording three successive wins by two goals or more to start the season. Moreover, they appear to be getting stronger by the week.
Hearts, meanwhile, have two home wins under their belts this season but have yet to taste victory on the road and are coming off the back of a loss in Zurich just a few days earlier, in which they lost centre-back Craig Halkett to injury.
The Jambos ran Celtic close on three occasions last season before crumbling 4-1 at Parkhead in the sides’ final meeting, and it is that one-sided fixture that this game is most likely to resemble.
Arbroath v Queen’s Park (Championship)
Queen’s Park matches continue to be overpriced when it comes to goals scored, perhaps because they were typically involved in so many tight games last season. This time around, they have a new more attacking manager in the form of Owen Coyle, and this style is proving to be effective, with four points from their opening three matches of the season.
What has been notable about QP’s games is the number of goals in them. Both teams have scored in all seven of their competitive fixtures this term, with only two of these matches having seen fewer than three goals. Indeed, each of their last couple of matches has been a five-goal thriller, with Coyle’s men getting the better of Partick 3-2 last weekend. This is justifying their attacking stance.
Arbroath, meanwhile, have made a distinctly slower start to the campaign. Successive 0-0 draws against Ayr and Inverness were followed up by a 4-2 loss against Dundee last weekend in which they rallied from a couple of goals down before fading late.
Despite Arbroath’s slow start in the league, the majority of their games this season have been high scoring. Four of their seven competitive matches have seen at least three goals. Last weekend’s loss was also their first defeat, so their confidence levels should still be relatively high.
Each of the last two fixtures between these sides have produced over 2.5 goals, but given these were more than four years ago, they are of limited relevance. Nevertheless, look for this trend to continue.
Peterhead v Queen of the South (League One)
It’s impossible to have any confidence in Peterhead at present. They have lost six of their seven competitive matches this season and have conceded at least two goals in every single one of these fixtures. For a brief period against Falkirk last weekend, they threatened to stop the rot before reality hit them and they suffered a 3-1 defeat.
Prior to last weekend’s game, they moved to sign a couple of young players on loan from Dundee, which should increase their strength in depth, yet it is their quality that is the issue. With key players Russell McLean, Andy McCarthy and, most notably, Hamish Ritchie all missing due to injury, Jim McInally’s side are toiling.
Queen of the South have yet to really get going this season either, but after draws against Montrose and Airdrie, which steadied them after a shock loss to Clyde on the opening day, they appear to be in a better place. Certainly, the return of striker Gavin Reilly from injury is a big boost, as was highlighted as he found the net last weekend.
Willie Gibson’s side started the season as one of the favourites for promotion, and if they are to live up to that billing, this long trip north is exactly the sort of fixture they have to find a way to win. Queen’s have only made this lengthy journey twice in their history but have won both previous meetings with Peterhead, albeit the most recent of these was in 2010.
Bonnyrigg v Albion Rovers (League Two)
Bonnyrigg have made the step up to league football impressively in the first month of the season, picking up seven points from a possible nine, despite playing three challenging games, two of which have come away from home. Unlike the other teams to move into League Two in recent years, they are not backed by a wealthy investor but instead have a strong team ethic. This has thus far made up for a comparative lack of ‘big’ names for this level.
This will be just their second home match of the season, with the club still riding high on a feel-good factor that has seen them shift a high number of season tickets and will make playing at New Dundas Park a challenging experience for any visiting team. Certainly that was evident as they beat Forfar 2-0 on the opening day of the season.
Meanwhile, Bonnyrigg are scoring goals. They have managed at least two in each of their three matches to date, with Kevin Smith scoring once in each league game.
By contrast, Albion Rovers are in the midst of a five-game losing sequence, while they have been beaten in seven of their eight competitive matches this season. Their three league matches have seen them struggle to score goals but they have managed to keep these games relatively tight, losing by just a single goal on each occasion.
This is arguably Rovers’ toughest test in the league so far this term and it is one they are unlikely to take anything from based on their sluggish start to the campaign.
Stenhousemuir v Dumbarton (League Two)
Stenhousemuir have shown little of the form that had them tipped as potential title winners at the start of the season, with the Larbert side suffering successive defeats on the road against Annan and Stirling Albion. Indeed, even the sole victory they gained over Albion Rovers, which came on the opening day of the season, was an ugly success in which they rarely played well.
Manger Stephen Swift has yet to get a handle on his squad. There is no evidence that he has found the right shape of chemistry for this group of players, which was evident with his team selection against Stirling last weekend. It was a match Stenhousemuir gave themselves no chance in, falling behind in the first minute then having debutant Daniel Higgins dismissed before five had been played. Such a display suggests they are still some time away from finding their best level.
Dumbarton, meanwhile, are the only team in the division with a perfect record. Wins have come against Stirling, Albion Rovers and Annan, with last weekend’s 4-0 success over the latter of these sides thoroughly deserved.
The Sons look the most complete side in the division at present, and though they are battling with a handful of injury problems ahead of the weekend’s trip, they have already shown that they have the capacity to deal with these.
Dumbarton are in a stronger position than their hosts coming into this game, and backing them on a draw-no-bet basis looks good value.
Elgin v Stranraer (League Two)
Elgin have made a high-scoring start to the League Two season, showing a capacity to both score and concede goals in equal measure. The Black and Whites have seen exactly four goals in each of their three games to date and look a side that is far better offensively than they are at the back. Indeed, Gavin Price’s outfit may be better suited to playing away from home, where they can exploit their quality on the counter. This has seen them pick up 2-2 draws against both Stirling and Forfar.
Stranraer, meanwhile, were also involved in a 2-2 draw last weekend against Bonnyrigg. It was a match they would have won but for the concession of a late penalty. Nevertheless, it was a game that showed that they are both capable offensively but also vulnerable at the back.
This fixture is one that has a long history of being one that produces goals. Indeed, in all of the seven previous league meetings between these clubs in Elgin, every single one has seen both teams find the net. There has been little to pick between the teams, with Stranraer winning three and Elgin picking up a couple of victories, but the common denominator is that each team has scored in every game.
Based on the evidence of recent weeks, that trend is likely to continue. Elgin do not appear to have it in them to keep a clean sheet, but equally they look too good not to find the net themselves.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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