TONIGHT sees the return of the Scottish Premiership after a three-week lay-off due to the winter break, although clubs were able to dust off the cobwebs last weekend in the Scottish Cup with only Ross County failing to progress.
Some really tricky matches to call – Rangers and Celtic shouldn't have any troubles but Aberdeen v Motherwell, Livingston v St Johnstone and Ross County v Hearts are evenly matched.
I'll be at the Tony Macaroni Stadium tonight watching St Johnstone and I'm really surprised to see us as big as 7/2 to win. I can understand why Livi are clear favourites but 5/6 for them is way too short. Value sits with us in a match I don't think we'll lose.
Hibs should take care of Hamilton but it will be interesting to see how they manage minus without Porteous and Naismith. Hibs have been suspect all season defensively, very rarely keep a clean sheet so I wouldn't be surprised to see Hamilton find the net
Like last night's over 2.5 goals NAP at Barnsley I think goals are the way to go again.
Ross County vs Hearts (7.45pm)
The hosts will be bitterly disappointed to have exited the Cup at Ayr at the weekend especially after creating so many chances. They have an opportunity to right that wrong tonight but face a tough task against a Hearts who are slowly starting to improve under Stendel.
Nine of County's last 10 home games have seen over 2.5 goals with 7 of those seeing both sides score. Losing young Ross Stewart to injury just before the winter shutdown is a real blow for County but they Still have Erwin and Mckay who can cause teams problems.
The atmosphere at Hearts is much improved and Saturday's 5-0 win at home to Airdrie is just what the doctor ordered. Wins build confidence and with Conor Washington, Steven Naismith and John Souttar retuning on Saturday, there will be a new-found air of optimism around Tynecastle.
Seven of the last 8 meetings between the sides in Dingwall have seen over 2.5 goals with 7 of the games also seeing both sides score.
County rarely fail to net at home, with Hearts having something to build on and Stendel now having a good solid three weeks to work with the players and get his ideas across I actually think Hearts can get a positive result.
You can't underestimate how important it is having Naismith back and it was a great move by Stendel to make him club captain. My word does he like to moan but he's a winner, has bags of experience and will lead Hearts on the field.
I was initially going to take over 2.5 goals at even money but I reckon Hearts can avoid defeat.
- Hearts Double Chance
- Over 1.5 match goals
- 5/6 (bet365) (NAP)
Hib vs Hamilton (7.45pm)
Losing two key defenders was the last thing Jack Ross needed so it's going to be an interesting final nine days for Hibs as they'll need to bring in extra bodies during the January transfer window.
Been goals galore in their home matches this season with nine of their 11 games going over 2.5 and nine of those seeing both sides score. Going forward they are a real threat, especially with Martin Boyle back to his best, Christian Doidge is in good scoring form over the last few months, then throw in Flo Kamberi and Scott Alaen and it makes for a formidable attack.
As I keep saying Hibs concede far too many goals, especially at home with eight of their 12 home games seeing the Leith side conceding tow or more, which simply isn't good enough.
Hamilton come into this in good nick and are more than capable of scoring. I'd expect Hibs to win this but they look way to short for me at 1/2. Stick with goals.
- Over 2.5 match goals
- 3/4 (Marathonbet)
- Over 1.5 second-half goals
- 1/1 (Paddy Power)