Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers host Kilmarnock on Saturday; Celtic travel to St Johnstone, live on Sky Sports Football from 11am on Sunday; kick-off 12pm; Ross County vs Hibernian postponed due to a frozen pitch
Football Expert & Columnist
Friday 12 February 2021 16:32, UK
Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker returns with his latest round of Scottish Premiership predictions ahead of the weekend’s action.
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Aberdeen vs St Mirren, Saturday, 3pm
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has been given the very public backing of his board due to recent speculation that they may be considering a managerial change. It seems as though the Aberdeen fans want to go to the “next level”. Given the success McInnes has had in his eight years at Pittodrie, the next level may well be a downgrade.
No one should dismiss the achievements of McInnes too quickly. The January transfer window was a busy one for Aberdeen, bringing in strikers Calum Hendry, Florian Kamberi and Fraser Hornby to replace the departures of Sam Cosgrove, Scott Wright and Curtis Main. It is undeniable that a serious goal threat recently has held Aberdeen back, there’s been far too many games where they haven’t scored.
I saw St Mirren lose heavily to Celtic on Wednesday and an early injury to Jamie McGrath really upset their rhythm. They rarely troubled Scott Bain in the Celtic goal and that would have been a source of great frustration for manager Jim Goodwin. Like others at the club, he has ambitions of finishing in the top half of the table.
WALKER PREDICTS: 1-0
Dundee United vs Livingston, Saturday, 3pm
Livingston’s long, unbeaten run came to an end when they lost to St Johnstone last weekend and it’ll be interesting to see if they can get back to winning ways again quickly.
With the Scottish League Cup final on the horizon, all the players will be desperate to impress in the hope of being part of a marvellous occasion. Unfortunately, Gavin Reilly will miss this one due to Covid issues, here’s hoping he can recover in time for the final at Hampden in a couple of weeks.
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Dundee United had been on an awful run of late but an impressive three points against Ross County in Dingwall last weekend gives them a fighting chance of a top six spot. Lawrence Shankland scored his fifth goal of the season and I’m sure everyone thought he would score more heavily than he has managed so far.
He certainly appreciated the part played by Marc McNulty in his goal, maybe they can finally work together to form a more effective partnership in the weeks ahead. It won’t be easy against Livingston, they have a work ethic, organisation and a physical approach that most clubs are struggling with.
WALKER PREDICTS: 0-1
Motherwell vs Hamilton, Saturday, 3pm
Motherwell were up against it in midweek when they travelled to Ayrshire to face a Kilmarnock side buoyed by the fresh appointment of Tommy Wright, but they handled it magnificently.
The narrow 1-0 win gave Graham Alexander’s men a bit more breathing space and it was interesting to note that at last, Motherwell kept a clean sheet for the first time under their new boss. Three wins from their last four games is the type of form we know that they’re capable of, but how will they cope in this Lanarkshire derby?
Brian Rice was so pleased with his players last weekend when they achieved a thoroughly deserved point against Rangers and he must hope now that they can kick on to some sort of consistency. The arrival of Bruce Anderson has given his team a lift, his partnership with Marios Ogkmpoe looked very promising. Accies need to start picking up points to keep the pressure on those immediately above them.
WALKER PREDICTS: 1-1
Rangers vs Kilmarnock, Saturday, 3pm
It’s only a matter of time now before Rangers secure the championship although I’m sure Steven Gerrard would like to see a lift in his team’s level of performance, especially as the Europa League clash with Royal Antwerp is on Thursday.
He described the draw with Hamilton last weekend as their worst performance of the season and knows his team are capable of so much more. Kilmarnock are the latest side to try and get something at Ibrox. It’s quite remarkable that in the previous 13 home games this season, Rangers haven’t dropped a single point.
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Alfredo Morelos will serve the last of his three-game ban while Kemar Roofe begins his retrospective two-game ban for a challenge on St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson. I imagine Cedric Itten or Jermain Defoe will start this one.
The alarm bells must be ringing for Kilmarnock. It’s no wins in six now and new boss Tommy Wright is up against it. His team have only scored twice in that six-game period but have conceded 14 – a very telling combination.
WALKER PREDICTS: 1-0
St Johnstone vs Celtic, Sunday, 12pm, live on Sky Sports Football
Too little, too late for Celtic now. They were impressive in a convincing 4-0 win over St Mirren on Wednesday night and most players look lively. But every Celtic supporter I speak to knows the title has gone.
As a result, the squad is beginning to take a different shape. Jeremie Frimpong, Hatem Elhamed and Olivier Ntcham have all moved on and there will be plenty more in and out over the coming months.
On a brighter note, Odsonne Edouard is getting back to his best, but he’s another who has turned it on too late to make the Hoops title challenge a serious one. I think Jonjoe Kenny has filled in very well at right back and offers the team a good balance.
Callum Davidson will no doubt approach this one with a bit of confidence having won their last two games against Kilmarnock and Livingston. He also saw his team gain a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park in a tight contest in December. His team have every reason to be lively – a final at Hampden at the end of the month has everyone in good spirits.
WALKER PREDICTS: 0-3
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