St Johnstone v Kilmarnock (Premiership)
It will take a dramatic shift in the fortunes of St Johnstone and Kilmarnock to produce an exciting game on Saturday at McDiarmid Park. Neither of these sides is known for their attacking qualities and a tight match looks on the cards in Perth.
The home side look to have too much quality to avoid the fraught relegation battle they were dragged into last term, but equally they are not showing the type of form to excite their fans.
Last weekend, though, they did score an impressive win over Hibs away from home. In front of their supporters in the league this season, their five fixtures have produced just eight goals in total.
Kilmarnock, meanwhile, are not a team that travel with any great expectations. A five-match undefeated run has been manufactured almost entirely at home, where they have played four of these encounters, while their sole road trip in this sequence was a 0-0 draw away at St Mirren. Otherwise on their travels this season, they have lost all five games, scoring one goal and conceding nine.
Killie did win 2-1 when the sides met at Rugby Park earlier this month, but they have tended to be involved in tighter games when playing on the road. Similarly, the Saints’ form has tended towards tighter matches when they play at home. In other words, don’t expect a classic.
Livingston v Celtic (Championship)
Celtic find themselves in a comparatively tricky period. They were dumped definitively out of Europe in midweek as they were held at home against Shakhtar Donetsk, struggling with offensive efficiency once again. The Hoops are bound to give an unfortunate team a real going over at some point in the relatively near future, but that is unlikely to be Livingston at the weekend.
For one thing, the prospect of a trip to the Bernabeu on Wednesday looms. The Real Madrid fixture may be a dead rubber for the Premiership leaders, but playing at such a venue is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some of these players and it will doubtless be playing on their minds.
Secondly, Livingston have rarely been Celtic’s favourite opponents in recent years. Indeed, these clubs have a history of tight matches. Of course, the Glasgow outfit have the upper hand in the rivalry, winning four of the last 10, but Livingston have a couple of wins themselves and have picked up four draws to boot. Prior to a 3-1 defeat in March, they had been undefeated in four home fixtures against the Hoops.
Moreover, the hosts have the advantage of having had a full week to prepare for this game. Indeed, they are coming into this fixture off the back of a 1-1 draw away against Rangers on Sunday – a fixture they were minutes away from winning.
Celtic would doubtless accept a scrappy one-goal victory if it was offered to them at kick-off.
Airdrie v Montrose (League One)
Airdrie continue to be massively overrated by the bookmakers, with all the value of Saturday’s fixture on in-form visiting side Montrose. Indeed, these sides met barely three weeks ago, with the Angus club running out comfortable 4-2 winners at Links Park.
This is part of a sequence that has seen Airdrie plunge from league leaders to third from bottom. During this time, the Diamonds have won two matches in 11 across all competitions, one of which was a home game against a Clyde outfit that has lost nine successive games.
Compounding the problems of the home team are a couple of injury issues. Key creative players Adam Frizzell and Gabby McGill are set to miss out, with their replacements of limited quality. Most teams would be able to brush these off, but working with a chronically small squad, they may only have four or five substitutes available.
Conversely, Montrose come into this game having found their form after a slow start to the season. The perennial overachievers have won seven of their last 10 games in all competitions, albeit the majority of these have been at home. Nevertheless, after drawing with fourth-placed Falkirk and then beating Dunfermline at the weekend, they are coming into some form.
Last season’s top scorer Graham Watson recently returned after injury and the squad appears to be in a period of steady improvement.
The odds on Montrose avoiding defeat have come in from close to evens at the start of the week, when the value on it was outstanding, but it remains a worthwhile bet.
Queen of the South v Falkirk (League One)
Falkirk travel to face Queen of the South on Saturday having been stung at home by Kelty last weekend, but look for John McGlynn’s side to bounce back against an opponent that has failed to live up to expectations this season.
Queens were expected to be fighting it out with the Bairns and Dunfermline for the title, but instead they are in the middle of the road, having failed to show any level of consistency at all this season. Manager Willie Gibson is struggling to find a coherent starting XI. The Dumfries side have picked up successive wins in the last fortnight, but these have come against Peterhead and Clyde, the two sides marooned at the foot of the table. These victories will have built confidence but do not point to long-term improvement.
Falkirk, meanwhile, do appear to be on an upwards trend, despite that loss last weekend. Kelty broke a six-game undefeated streak for the Bairns, during which they played three of the other four members of the league’s top five clubs.
The previous meeting between these clubs, which took place in mid-August, suggests there is a significant gap that Queens will have to bridge. Falkirk won that fixture 3-1 at home and have improved since them. Their rivals have arguably only stood still.
A mediocre away record – won two, drawn two and lost two – means that backing the visitors on a draw-no-bet basis is the way forward here.
Albion Rovers v Stenhousemuir (League Two)
Stenhousemuir have probably the best squad in League Two, but if they are to make up the ground on league leaders Stirling Albion, this is the type of match that they need to be winning. There have certainly been signs of improvement from the Warriors in recent weeks, with Stephen Swift’s men having pieced together a run of eight games in which they have only lost to Stirling.
Away from home, the Larbert side have also been powerful, winning at Forfar, East Fife and Bonnyrigg – all teams stronger than their weekend hosts. Meanwhile, they have won their last four against the Coatbridge side, including a 1-0 success on the opening day of the league season on the final weekend of July.
Albion Rovers, meanwhile, may not be the whipping boys they can be portrayed to be, but they remain a weak opponent. From their last 14 matches, they have won only two after 90 minutes, both of which were against league newcomers Bonnyrigg. Indeed, last weekend they were held 1-1 by Glasgow University over 90 minutes in the Scottish Cup in what was a thoroughly uninspiring result.
At home this season, the Wee Rovers have lost three of their five matches but have yet to be trounced. Indeed, they have not conceded more than two goals in any of their league fixtures this season.
Stenhousemuir have injury problems going into this game, but mostly in defence, and with the firepower they have on offer, they should have enough to get the win.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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