PROUD Scot (@chrisgraham79) pinpoints his best bet from the weekend Scottish action.
Rangers v St Johnstone | Sunday 23rd September 2018, 15:00
The new Scottish season has been a joy to follow. Hearts setting the pace, Celtic looking vulnerable at times, Rangers under a new regime and Queen of the South’s Stephen Dobbie scoring a truckload of goals. And that’s not to mention all the crazy stuff that goes on off the field.
Watching Celtic win the last seven titles in a common canter has been tedious stuff for neutrals like me and I’m desperately hoping this year we get a title race into the New Year.
The season has certainly started well and it’s worth noting that for the first time in 13 years a non-Old Firm side leads the table by 5+ points. It’s that kind of thing that’s got me hooked this season and I’m hoping I can keep furnishing you with thoughts as the season progresses.
This weekend’s Premiership card looks a tricky one as usual with Hearts touching 1/2 to make it six wins in a row against in-form Livingston. It’s not a price that appeals to me.
A red letter night
Instead I’ll look to Sunday for value as Rangers host St Johnstone. I’m writing this before the Gers take on Villarreal in Spain on Thursday night but that game is absolutely crucial to my thinking here.
Thursday night’s match is a real red letter day for the Glasgow club. Rangers have been to hell (literally according to many) and back in the last six years but after all the pain and humiliation they now find themselves in the Europa League group stages under new boss Steven Gerrard.
These are exciting times for the club. It must be like getting released from a long spell in captivity in the Lebanon.
I think there’s a case to say that Thursday night’s game is the hardest Rangers have faced in years. You could certainly put Villarreal in the same bracket as Celtic but many would say they’re superior after a fine 5th place finish in La Liga last season.
It looks the kind of night where Rangers are going to have to expend a lot of energy, mentally and physically, as they look to emerge with their dignity intact.
So once this is wrapped up they host St Johnstone on Sunday and the Perth side look much too big at double figure odds.
Tommy Wright’s men have made a fine start to the campaign with just one defeat from 10 competitive matches. They’ve taken points off both Aberdeen and Hibs and slammed four past a tough Queen of the South side in the League Cup.
Tony Watt has come into the side and has notched five times already. The journeyman is thriving in his new key role and the former Celtic cult hero will be desperate to harm Rangers on Sunday.
The nub of my thinking is that Rangers will be tired on Sunday on the back of Thursdays’s epic game and the Saints could pose them problems. Rangers were desperate three days after their last Europa League match when they failed to put up a fight against Celtic and a similar flat display can’t be ruled out.
At 10/1 St Johnstone are a big price and it may be worth a small interest but I’ll back them +1 on the Asian Handicap at almost 2/1. If they lose by exactly one goal I’ll get my stake back.
Rangers v St Johnstone – St Johnstone +1 Asian Handicap (37/19 188BET)