Celtic to romp home in Scotland - Betting Preview
This season in the Scottish Premiership promises to be a good one for punters despite Celtic being all but guaranteed another title. Whether the Hoops will be able to replace the prolific goalscoring ability of Gary Hooper after the Englishman joined Norwich City remains to be seen. At 1/40 to win the title they are not a bet but I can't see any other side challenging them for league honours.
Aberdeen disappointed last season to only finish eighth but look likely to improve under Derek McInnes' stewardship. With players like Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Calvin Zola signing in the summer the Dons look likely to at least challenge for a top six spot and I wouldn't be surprised to see them challenge for a Europa League spot. 9/4 about them in the W/O Celtic market might be good value but the one I like is 8/15 in the "North Group", which matches them up with Inverness and Ross County.
Celtic will be part of many season multiples to win the league and 1/40 is definitely a fair reflection of their chances to win the Scottish Premiership. Their squad certainly looks weaker than last season without Wanyama and Hooper but so do most other sides in the league so I think Celtic to win the league by 31-40 points at 10/3 looks a good value bet. Anthony Stokes looks a decent bet 4/1 to be top goalscorer.
Jackie McNamara's Dundee United side have a pretty exciting group of players coming in to this season and with David Goodwillie returning to the club on loan they have a proven marksman at this level. Jon Daly will be a big miss having joined Rangers on a free but Goodwillie should be a very capable replacement. I fancy the Arabs to have a very good season and 6/1 on them in the without Celtic market is a great bet.
Hearts are in disarray coming into this season having entered administration and they will start the season on -15 points and with a heavily depleted squad. They really need a buyer and some more players of the required standard before they can start thinking about competing in the league this season. Players like Jamie Hamill, Danny Wilson and Ryan Stevenson will be key in this campaign but I can't see any other outcome than a relegated Jambos. They are 4/7 for the drop which looks good value.
Things are a bit more positive on the other side of Edinburgh where Hibs are fancied to do well in the league despite a poor Europa League qualifying campaign that saw them lose 9-0 on aggregate to Swedish side Malmo. Owain Tudur Jones, signed from Inverness, will bolster their midfield and they could prove to be a tough side to beat. Although Hibs are just 4/7 to finish in the top six I think that is a decent price. A market that interests me more is the Handicap where they are very tempting at 8/1 with a 33 point head-start over Celtic.
Terry Butcher has had to overhaul the Inverness squad yet again this season after a host of departures after last season's excellent fourth place finish. The fact they have managed to hold on to prolific striker Billy Mckay is a huge positive for Caley's chances this season. The squad looks good enough to make a run for the top six again this season and even money about a top six finish for them is a good price. McKay might be a touch of each-way value in the top goalscorer market at 14/1.
Kilmarnock will be hopeful of having a better season than last, when they finished ninth and never really looked like challenging for a place in the top six. With players like James Fowler, Kris Boyd and Darren Barr, Killie have a solid spine to the side and could certainly challenge for a top six spot. 7/4 looks a great price for that to happen and could be worth a substantial wager.
Stuart McCall has a very tough job this season as Motherwell manager as they aim to maintain their current hold on second place. With Michael Higdon departing for NEC Nijmegen in the Eredivisie, the Steelmen have lost a 25 goal a season striker who will be very tough to replace. There's plenty of quality in the Motherwell squad and they are guaranteed at least a top six spot and should challenge for second so might be worth a bet at 11/4 in the W/O Celtic market.
After eleven years out of the top flight Partick Thistle are a welcome addition to the newly formed Scottish Premiership after romping to the Division One title last season. Alan Archibald's men would likely be relegation favourites if Hearts weren't deducted fifteen points. I fancy the Jags to do well this season and establish themselves as a Premiership side for a good many seasons. They are 9/1 outsiders to win the West Group containing Motherwell, St Mirren and Kilmarnock but that might be a good value bet.
Ross County broke local rivals Inverness' hearts at the end of last season as they claimed a win to deny Caley a place in the Europa League. The Staggies have lost a few key players in the close season but managed to hold on to skipper Richard Brittain after a dispute with St Johnstone which is a massive bonus. Another top-six finish would be incredible for Ross County and they are 6/4 to do so.
Tommy Wright has had a good start to life as St Johnstone manager, leading them to a famous aggregate win over Rosenborg in Europa League qualifying. A prolonged European run may put too much strain on a smallish squad but I think another good season is in store for the Saints and 7/2 for them to win the East Group against Dundee United, Hibs and Hearts is a cracking price.
Finally we come to St Mirren, who perennially seem to finish in 11th place and will likely be near the bottom again. There were signs of improvement for The Buddies last season but they still couldn't compete for the duration and were fortunate Dundee started so slowly. A place in the relegation play-off looms for Danny Lennon's men. If you can see Hearts getting out of trouble then back St Mirren for relegation at 8/1.