AFTER a three-week winter break the Scottish Premiership is back with a bang with a full card and some cracking looking fixtures.
It's all eyes on McDiarmid for me as St Johnstone host Livingston and the Perth Saints will be looking to continue their great form against a side who struggle on the road.
St Johnstone vs Livingston (7.45pm)
It's been a terrific season for Tommy Wright's St Johnstone and they came back after the winter shutdown to record a routine win against Hamilton in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
After being on the receiving end of a 6-0 hammering to Celtic back in October the Perth side put that behind them by going on 8-match unbeaten run (6 wins and 2 draws) which included wins away at Hibs and Aberdeen.
That run also saw goalkeeper Zander Clark register a club record 6 and a bit games without conceding, a feat which soon propelled the team to the upper end of the table.
Despite back-to-back defeats at the beginning of December they signed off the year in style with away wins at Dundee and St Mirren, again without conceding, taking the team to 10 clean sheets from the last 13 matches which is exceptional.
Don't be fooled by thinking the success this season is based solely on their defensive qualities, going forward St Johnstone are a real threat and probably have one of the strongest squads the club has had.
With Tony Watt spearheading the attack and supported by Matty Kennedy, it's been an absolute pleasure watching them this season. Add into the mix Danny Swanson, and the return of Michael O'Hallaron, we have an attacking threat a lot of the clubs in the league would bite your hand off for.
Our record against the teams in the bottom half of the table has been terrific:
- St Mirren P2 W2
- Hamilton P2 W2
- Dundee P2 W2
- Hibs P2 W1 D1
- Motherwell P2 w1 L1
- Livingston P1 W1
Nine wins 1 draw and just one defeat is good going and tonight we welcome a Livingston side who have been a real surprise package this season.
Livi boss Gary Holt deserves huge credit taking them to 7th place and collecting 30 points already this season which will all but ensure they are playing to- flight football again next season.
I keep repeating myself on Livi – great at home on their plastic pitch (only Aberdeen and us have won there) – but poor away from home with just 7 of their 30 points collected on their travels and it's been profitable backing against them away from home.
They are missing striker Dolly Menga through suspension which is a huge blow for them – he's a real handful and I'm personally delighted he won't be playing. There are also doubts over a few other key men. This was always going to be a tough match for Livi but even more so now.
Livi will battle and will make life difficult but we are almost at full strength and with Kennedy pulling the strings and tormenting defences we look a good shout to collect another three points against a weakened Livi side whose best work is done back at the Tony Macaroni Stadium.
- St Johnstone to win
- 6/5 (Black Type) (NAP)