PRO PUNTER Dino Vita (@VitaDino) delivers his verdict on the ante-post Scottish Premiership markets, picking out his best pre-season bets for the 2018/19 campaign.
WLB Season Preview 2018/19 | Scottish Premiership
The Scottish football season is nearly upon us and it’s shaping up to be an exciting campaign.
The big summer news was of course, Steven Gerrard’s appointment at Rangers. Will he be able to stop Celtic’s domination as they look to continue their bid for 10 titles in a row?
Celtic have won seven Premiership crowns on the spin now and even the most diehard Gers supporter will understand he might not be able to stop number eight happening. But Gerrard may be capable of pulling the plug thereafter.
I certainly can’t see anyone stopping Celtic this season and their early European form suggest they’ve continued on from last season – signing Odsonne Edouard permanently for £9m just shows how far ahead of the rest of the country.
Pre-season injuries to Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths mean Edouard will be Brendan Rodgers’ main man and his July form suggests he’ll score plenty this term – enough to make the 9/2 (Ladbrokes) available for the Top Goalscorer gong appeal.
Rangers have to finish minimum second place this season and the fans have to see the gap closing for them to have belief in Gerrard. Aberdeen clinched the silver medal on the last day of the 2017/18 campaign and will hope to repeat that feat again this term.
However, the Dons have a big season ahead of them after losing key players in Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie and Adam Rooney.
Hibs had a wonderful first season back in the Premiership – Neil Lennon’s side were great to watch, especially in the second half of the year, but they also have lost key players. Dylan McGeouch has gone and the departure of John McGinn looks very likely before the transfer window shuts.
One big plus for Hibs is the permanent addition of Flo Kamberi. The Swiss striker scored nine goals in 12 league games after arriving on loan in January.
If he picks up where he left off last season, he could be the man to push Edouard in the goalscoring charts and at 11/1 looks a great each-way poke with Betfair.
Kilmarnock punched above their weight in 2017/18 to clinch fifth. Steve Clarke’s men were excellent and will hope to prove it wasn’t just a one-season wonder.
Killie relied heavily on the goals of veteran striker Kris Boyd and will hope he can find his shooting boots again, but the potential departure of star man Jordan Jones would be a hard void to fill.
Hearts had a poor campaign by their usual standards finishing sixth. Craig Levein has had a summer clear out and signed 13 new players and it will take time to bed his new-look side together. The arrival of Steven Naysmith was excellent business again by the Jambos.
Motherwell got to both domestic cup finals and although they lost both to Celtic, I think it showed they are better than their seventh-placed finish.
Steve Robinson has kept most of last season’s squad together and has a knack of finding a gem in the lower leagues, so I’d fancy ‘Well to clinch one of the top-six places at 2/1 (BetVictor).
St Johnstone and Dundee finished bottom half last term but never looked in any danger of being involved in the relegation places. It’s so competitive for the top-six spots that I feel the other sides are better equipped than them to make it.
In my eyes, there’ll be a three-way fight to avoid the drop between Hamilton and the two new boys, St Mirren and Livingston.
Hamilton keep managing to avoid relegation but this summer they’ve lost Ali Crawford and David Templeton. If they get off to a bad start they could be chasing their tails and at 5/1 (BetVictor) they’re the value call.
St Mirren cruised the Championship but the vultures have came calling. Manager Jack Ross has left for Sunderland – a massive loss – and star man Lewis Morgan has joined Celtic.
Alan Stubbs has replaced Ross and has a massive job on his hands to keep the Saints in the Premiership.
Meanwhile, Livingston also have a new manager. David Hopkin won back-to-back promotions but decided to call it a day in May.
Kenny Miller has replaced him as player/manager – even at 38 Miller is the best striker they have and will hope to use his experience on and off the park to help Livi stay in the top-flight.
2018/19 Scottish Premiership – Motherwell to finish in the top-six (2/1 BetVictor)
2018/19 Scottish Premiership – Hamilton to finish bottom (5/1 BetVictor)
2018/19 Scottish Premiership – Odsonne Edouard to be Top Goalscorer (9/2 Ladbrokes)
2018/19 Scottish Premiership – Flo Kamberi to be Top Goalscorer (11/1 each-way Betfair)