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Jon Riley 27th Oct 2011 - 11:01

The William Hill SPL weekend preview

William Hill SPL Preview

Ally McCoist's tenure in the Ibrox hotseat did not get off to the most impressive of starts. A dour home draw against Hearts on the opening day of the SPL season was followed by elimination from the UEFA Champions League by Malmo in the third qualifying round. Since then however, the side from Govan have embarked on an excellent run of form that has seen them occupy top spot in the table, ten points clear of Glasgow rivals Celtic.

One team that would love to take the Gers down a peg or two, is Aberdeen. It is fair to say that this rivalry is not borne out of geographical proximity as the two teams are separated by 150 miles of motorway but more out of an intense rivalry that boiled over in the early 1980's, when Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen were THE force in Scottish football, and has been simmering ever since.

It is Rangers that travel to the east coast of Scotland for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, live on ESPN.

Last week Aberdeen travelled to Glasgow to take on Celtic and left pointless but with encouraging signs of progress. Indeed before that loss, Craig Brown's men had won back-to-back home games at Pittodrie to take them onto 12 points.

Rangers tasted victory on the road once again last weekend, and once again kept a clean sheet. It is hard to see anything other than another three points heading back to Ibrox. Goals from Steven Naismith (5/1 first scorer) and Nikica Jelavic (10/11 anytime scorer) sealed a 2-0 win at Hearts and should be amongst the goals once again.

Match betting: Aberdeen 5/1 Rangers 11/20
Recommendation: Rangers to win to nil 11/8

Second placed Motherwell travel to bottom club Inverness looking to close the gap on leaders Rangers and maintain their one point cushion over third paced Celtic. Both Caley Thistle and the Steelmen registered home draws last weekend (priced 23/10) but unsurprisingly it is Stuart McCall's Motherwell that are the favourites here at 6/4, compared to the 9/5 on offer for Terry Butcher's men.

Celtic and Hibernian clash for the second time in four days after meeting in Wednesday's League Cup clash. The Hoops were trailing to a determined Hibs side at half time but staged a dramatic comeback to dispose of the hosts 4-1 (correct score 14-1) and progress through to the semi-finals. It's SPL action from Parkhead on Saturday though and Neil Lennon will hope to ignite a stuttering season with a comprehensive double over the Easter Park outfit. The match betting for this one is priced at 2/9 Celtic and 12/1 Hibernian, therefore it would probably be advisable, and more profitable, to back Celtic on the handicap, -1 goal and -2 can be backed at 11/20 and 6/4 respectively.

Second bottom of the SPL takes on third bottom this weekend when Dunfermline host Dundee United at East End Park. United will still be reeling from their midweek penalty defeat at home to Falkirk in the League Cup and could take out their frustrations on the Pars. The visitors are the pre-match favourites at 5/4 going in to this clash with Dunfermline priced at 21/10.

St Johnstone managed a draw in their first match without the departed Derek McInnes and will be looking to extends their good form in the SPL which has seen them remain unbeaten in the month of October and rise to fourth place in the table. No new manager has been officially installed as of yet and it will be interesting to see how the players fare. St Mirren are no pushovers as Rangers found out a fortnight ago, but they have lost both games since taking that heroic point from Ibrox. Will it be St Johnstone (6/5) or St Mirren (23/10) feeling heavenly after this encounter?

Although they came away from their match with the league leaders last week with no goals and no points, manager Paulo Sergio will surely take some heart from their performance against Rangers. The Jambos created numerous chances and only the combination of wasteful finishing and terrific goalkeeping denied them. Will they be more ruthless against Kilmarnock? Hearts are priced at 4/5 with Killies at 19/5, a repeat of their 0-0 stalemate in August can be backed at 8/1.


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