SCOTLAND'S big guns come out of cold storage hoping to shoot down the little uns.

Most of our top teams have been sunning themselves during the winter break and return to action in the Scottish Cup.

Unlike the FA Cup teams generally field their strongest sides and that's a bonus for punters who know there won't be many shocks.

On the other hand finding value isn't easy and for example a fivefold on Celtic (v Airdrie), Aberdeen (v Stenny), Hibs (v Elgin), Killie (v Forfar) and Inverness (v East Kilbride) pays evens at betfair. If you fancy a sizeable punt do it with a bookie that offers moneyback on fivefolds with no odds restriction such as McBookie – in this case they are slightly smaller at 9-10.

All those sides should win with plenty to spare and you could take more risk by backing them on the -1 handicap at 5-1 with bet365.

Celtic welcome Airdrie in the live TV game tonight and it will be interesting to see how many new faces Brendan Rodgers bloods with fans keen to see Timothy Weah, Oliver Burke and Bayo in action.

Rodgers has beefed up his attack and will be looking for goals. Take Celtic -3 at 2-1 with Paddy Power but don't back a first scorer until you see who is playing.

Aberdeen were in fine form before the break and it's just a matter of how many against Stenny. Should cover the -2 at 6-5 with Paddy Power.

Hibs have lost Martin Boyle for the season and are still without Jamie Maclaren who is on international duty but it would be a major shock if they didn't thrash League Two Elgin. Again -2 is worth backing at 23-20 with boylesports.

Killie have lost Greg Stewart while Jordan Jones has signed a pre-contract with Rangers so it's been a bad January for Steve Clarke. However, he still has Eamonn Brophy and Kris Boyd could come in from the cold.

Despite those disappointments a confident Killie outfit should put Forfar to the sword. Killie -2 is 13-10 at Paddy Power.

Inverness face non-league East Kilbride and should be fine having defeated Edinburgh City 6-1 in the last round. ICT -1 is the way to go at 1-2 with Ladbrokes.

So that's the hot favourites out of the way – what about the potential for shocks.

No.1 on my list are Alloa at 15-4 with McBookie at St Mirren. Buddies legend Jim Goodwin has done a fine job with his team and they are unbeaten in six having netted exactly two in all of those matches.

Saints gaffer Oran Kearney has made big changes to his squad as he tools up for a relegation battle but it could take time for them to gel. Take Alloa draw no bet at 7-2 at Paddy Power and that's marginally smaller than the straight win.

Dundee won't relish the visit of Queen of the South who have thrashed Championship leaders Ross County 4-0 last weekend. Queens have a goal diamond in the shape of 32-goal Stephen Dobbie and will fancy their chances at 4-1 with bet365.

Dundee United are aiming high under their new owner and should win at Montrose while I'm taking Partick Thistle to collect a much-needed win at home to Stranraer.

In today's all-Premiership tie I like St Johnstone at 4-6 with William Hill to beat a Hamilton side they hammered 4-0 in Perth back in November.

Auchinleck v Ayr is first up today and while there is the potential for a shock I'm backing the Championship side.

Ayr won 4-0 at Talbot's junior rivals Beith in the last round and despite no wins in five they should take this at a short price. Talbot are no mugs though and best bet could be Ayr and both to score at 6-5 with Ladbrokes.

There are three games in League Two and all should be home wins. Top two Edinburgh City and Peterhead are of the banker variety at home to Annan and Berwick respectively. Stirling are as big as evens with Marathonbet as they go for four wins in a row at home to freefalling Queen's Park.

Recommended Bets

  • Celtic -3
  • Aberdeen -2
  • Killie -2
  • Hibs -2
  • QoS draw no bet
  • Alloa draw no bet
  • Auchinleck v Ayr btts (12.15pm)
  • Edinburgh City
  • Stirling Albion

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