Hibernian vs Aberdeen | Sunday 30th August 2020, 16:30 | Sky Sports
This match pitches together the two teams that potentially are the best equipped to finish ‘best of the rest' behind Celtic and Rangers in the Premiership this season.
Assessing Hibs form isn't as cut and dried as it appears at first glance, especially when you just look at their points haul. Hibernian have W4-D1-L0 – no doubt, an excellent return – but after watching closely their recent games and looking at these matches in greater detail, they haven't been as dominant as you would think. It's probably fair to say Hibs have only played really well in the excellent 4-1 away win to Livingston.
The Hibees produced an Expected Goals (xG) output of 2.66 against Livi, giving away 0.76. In the other four games the xG tells a different story:
- Hibs 0.86-1.79 Kilmarnock
- Dundee Utd 0.67-0.81 Hibs
- Hibs 1.11-1.71 Motherwell
- St Johnstone 1.07-0.48 Hibs
So the 13/15 points gained by Hibs so far, is undoubtedly flattering them overall. Indeed, at 0-0 in both their recent games, there has been a disallowed goal by their opposition (one of them wrongly chalked off). Jack Ross's men have however defended resolutely thus far, and have proved hard to beat.
Aberdeen have only played three league matches, losing to Rangers and defeating both St Johnstone and Livingston. Despite a strong performance in a 6-0 win against Faroese side Runavik on Thursday night, the Dons, despite the two wins in the league, haven't been that convincing in the league to date, seen also in their own xG results:
- Aberdeen 0.23-1.33 Rangers
- St Johnstone 0.65-0.52 Aberdeen
- Aberdeen 0.85-1.75 Livingston
So Derek McInnes must be delighted with 6/9 points total, based on an average xG of only 0.57.
Aberdeen will be able to field a strongish team on Sunday, having recently added Marley Watkins to boost the depleted attacking options. The eight players who broke Covid-19 guidelines after the Rangers match at the start of the month have received a suspended three-game ban, which will only activate in February if there are any further rule breaches.
Meanwhile, Hibs may continue to play Christian Doidge and Martin Boyle as the front two, as Kevin Nisbet has been nursing a hamstring injury.
Under 1.5 Goals (11/5 Unibet)
Prior to this weekend, an incredible 13/27 (48%) of Premiership matches this season have featured one goal or fewer. The fare served up for the live Sky Sports matches has been even more bereft of goals with seven of eight producing no more than a solitary strike – the only match to go Over 1.5 Goals ended in a 1-1 draw with a total of seven goals across those eight televised encounters, three of which were penalties.
Jack Ross's hosts have only conceded two goals this season, none of which arrived from open play. Add to that, Derek McInnes teams are known for being decent defensively, and are no strangers to managing a slender lead.
It's not a bet I would normally suggest, but at the prices and taking in all recent evidence, it points to another tight game in Leith, and goals could once again be hard to come by. Therefore, Under 1.5 Goals at 11/5 (Unibet) has to be considered.
40+ Booking Points (10/11 SkyBet)
Another angle I like for this competitive head-to-head, is the possibility of some cards. With combative players like Gogic, Ferguson and Watkins in the central areas, it could get quite tasty.
The referee for this one is Nick Walsh. The whistler is fresh from a quiet Thursday evening Europa League tie in Armenia where he went into his pocket for the yellow card on seven occasions.
Given his stats, brandishing a minimum of four yellow cards is well within his compass. In fact, in his last nine Premiership matches, the 40+ Bookings Points mark has landed seven times (the only two it didn't were Livingston versus Rangers and Rangers versus Hamilton fixtures).
In competitive games were teams are more evenly matched, he tends to reach for the cards pretty regularly. This game meets this criteria, given both teams aspirations for third place this season.
Lewis Ferguson to be the First Goalscorer (18/1 Bet365)
It's a bet I flagged up in the Dons' last away match at Perth. It didn't pay out that night, but has landed in the Granite City teams' next two matches – at home to Livingston and on Thursday evening at home to Runavik in the Europa League.
In an expected tight match, if there is to be a goal, it might be worth having the Dandies' penalty taker on your side. Ferguson is generally priced at 11/1 to score first, but Bet365’s 18/1 is tempting once again, and too big a price to ignore.
It's Edinburgh, it's August, but sadly in these different times there is no Festival. It could be that there is no goalfest in this one either.