SCOTTISH football bible Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) delivers his verdict on the best ante-post bets from the Scottish Premiership in 2016/17.
Scottish Premiership 2016/17
With Brendan Rodgers taking up the reins at Celtic Park and Rangers in the top-flight for the first time since 2012, the Scottish Premiership is sure to attract plenty of column inches in the weeks and months ahead.
Mark Warburton’s men will have plenty of support at 100/30 (BetBright) to wrestle the title back across the city from their Glasgow rivals and the ‘Gers have certainly made some high-profile captures with Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar amongst the new arrivals in Govan.
I’m not convinced, however, that Rangers will put up much of a fight for the title this term, however, for Celtic, too, have bought shrewdly.
The acquisition of Moussa Dembele as a strike partner for the free-scoring Leigh Griffiths looks to be a very good move while, despite being past his prime, Kolo Toure shouldn’t struggle to find his feet in the Scottish Premiership.
With odds of just 6/17 (188BET) for Celtic to be crowned as champions again, there isn’t much for punters to get their teeth into, though.
Aberdeen, runners-up last season, and Hearts, who finished third following their promotion from the Scottish Championship, are widely considered as the most likely challengers to the Old Firm duopoly this term.
For me, St Johnstone are a side capable of further improvement during the season ahead. The Saints were fourth last season, but the signing of Paul Paton, Keith Watson and Blair Alston has, undoubtedly, strengthened their squad.
Can Tommy Wright’s men finish ‘best of the rest’ this season? Probably not – but the 20/1 (BetBright) quote on offer is worth a punt and the 5/4 (SkyBet) quote, though, for Saints to finish in the Top-Six is a sensational bet – and one that I’d wholeheartedly recommend.
With Celtic seemingly set for a sixth successive title, it would take a braver man than I to bet against former Hibernian and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Leigh Griffiths to claim the Top Goalscorer crown yet again this season.
For my money, Griffiths is, by a considerable distance, the best striker in Scotland and I can only hope that Gordon Strachan manages to catch on when it comes to Griffiths’ talents in front of goal before Scotland embark on their World Cup 2018 qualification campaign later this year.
The 3/1 (Bet365) quote for the Hoops front man to be Scotland’s leading marksman is surely a steal, providing that he can remain largely injury-free throughout the forthcoming campaign.
Griffiths scored a hugely impressive 31 goals in the Scottish top-flight last term – the highest total in a decade – and even if the 25-year-old isn’t quite as prolific this time around, I’m struggling to pick out a striker who could come close.
Martyn Waghorn scored 28 goals in 36 appearances for Rangers last term but that was in the Championship and the former Wigan striker, who scored eight goals in 41 appearances for the Latics over two seasons, will need to prove that he is capable of scoring at a higher level if he is to push Griffiths this time around.
Celtic and Griffiths look likely to enjoy another fruitful campaign, but the same cannot be said for poor Hamilton Academical who, I fear, are destined for the drop after two seasons in the top flight of Scottish football.
Martin Canning’s side have lost the influential Ziggy Gordon as well as goalkeeper Michael McGovern, who secured a switch – for nothing – to Norwich City after a string of superb performances for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016 – what were Accies thinking about letting his contract run out?
Canning’s side have signed former Celtic man Massimo Donati, but at 35-years-old, I’m not sure that he’ll have the legs to run the midfield for the Accies. The 10/3 (SkyBet) quote for Hamilton to Finish Bottom of the Premiership looks like excellent value, given that fellow strugglers from last season,
Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock, look stronger this time around. Accies fans will be looking for a team to be cut adrift, a la Dundee United last term, to save their skin, but if they can’t see a contender to be the worst team in the league, it’s because it’s probably them…
Scottish Premiership – St Johnstone ‘Without Celtic and Rangers’ (20/1 BetBright)
Scottish Premiership – St Johnstone to finish in the top-six (5/4 SkyBet)
Scottish Premiership – Leigh Griffiths to be Top Goalscorer (3/1 Bet365)
Scottish Premiership – Hamilton to finish bottom (10/3 SkyBet)