Considering their respective form going into the weekend fixtures, Aberdeen and Motherwell’s prices appear slightly short. These are the two clubs that finished in the immediate places behind champions Celtic last season and, as a result, their odds are shorter for their home ties than they perhaps should be.
Motherwell have been battling with a fluctuating injury list since the season began and Fraser Kerr’s suspension - for his inexcusable challenge on Jamie Hamill in the recent defeat by Kilmarnock – means that Mark O’Brien, on loan from Derby County, will likely step in for his debut. Other than the untested 21-year-old central defender, Steven McManus and Craig Reid are the only recognised first-team defenders available for selection, with Stuart Carswell filling in as the makeshift left-back.
Motherwell have only managed a solitary victory in six matches in all competitions this season – which involved a two-legged affair against part-time Icelanders that appear to spend more time practicing celebrations than they do practicing ball retention – and have lost all of their last three league matches.
They welcome St. Johnstone to Fir Park on Saturday. The Saints may lack a little firepower right now but so do the home side, and the likes of MacLean, Wotherspoon and O’Halloran, as well as new recruit Brian Graham, should be able to take advantage of that improvised Motherwell back-line. I expect St. Johnstone, fresh off their victory over Aberdeen last week, to take the three points with similar comfort to Inverness a few weeks back. Back St. Johnstone to win with McBookie @21/20.
Aberdeen’s recent form has been equally as poor as Motherwell’s. They have lost four of their last five matches – although two of those came in a Europa League qualifier against a superior Real Sociedad – and have only managed two league goals in three league matches so far, both of those goals coming in their win over Kilmarnock.
Partick Thistle, who travel to Pittodrie on Saturday, may have lost on three separate occasions to Aberdeen last season, however, the Glasgow club eventually recorded a win over the Dons with a 3-1 victory in the final meeting. The early season form of the sides suggests that Thistle are the team to back as they have found the net in all four of their matches so far this season, only losing one of those. That said, I’m slightly less confident of outright victory than I am with St. Johnstone, so instead I’ll be looking at Double Chance Draw/Partick Thistle @ 21/20 or Partick Thistle to win (Draw no bet) @27/10.
Livingston are unbeaten in the four matches since their defeat at Easter Road on the opening weekend of the Championship season, winning three of those. Although according to the BBC, they are unbeaten in their last five after recording two 4-1 victories over Hearts in the same night.
Conversely, Dumbarton have lost four-in-a-row and have conceded fourteen goals in the process. In fact, with the exception of a 1-0 victory over Brechin City in the first round of the League Cup, the Sons have conceded at least three goals in every match so far this season (2-3,1-3,0-4,1-4,2-3). This includes their twelve-minute capitulation versus Hibernian on Tuesday evening and suggests that an in-form Livingston side may be too much for them come Saturday. Back Livingston to win @ 13/10.
Lastly, expect goals at Stair Park. On Tuesday, Stranraer’s leaky defence cost them a place in the next round of the League Cup and edged the scoreline above the 2.5 line - the fourth consecutive match of theirs that this has happened. In fact, if we stretch the stat back into last season, eleven of their last thirteen have broken the 2.5 goals barrier.
They take on a Dunfermline side who, after a shaky start to their League One campaign, are now beginning to find the net with increasing frequency. Their last three matches have ended in three goals or more, which means I’ll be backing Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/10.