WLB debutant and Scottish football aficionado Gerry Taylor (@thefurlongpole) delivers his verdict on the ante-post Scottish Premiership specials markets, picking out his best pre-season bets for the 2020/21 campaign.
WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Scottish Premiership: Specials
This season’s Scottish Premiership could be played out in a 2-3-3-4 formation.
As expected, Celtic and Rangers should go clear in the table, especially seeing as the quality, squad sizes and budgets they work with are on a different level to the rest of their opponents.
I can see Hibs, Aberdeen and Motherwell battling to get in the Europa League in third, fourth and fifth. All three have good attacking options, and all have similarly shrewd managers.
That could leave Livingston, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone competing for the final top-six berth. Livvy’s fate could hinge on how they cope if Lyndon Dykes leaves. Killie have some new faces up from the English leagues, who are a bit of an unknown quantity, whilst Saints – apart from a poor start last season – are a pretty consistent mid-table type.
The bottom four could therefore be Ross County, St Mirren, Dundee United and Hamilton. The former usually play it tight under Jim Goodwin. The concern for the Paisley Buddies is where the goals are going to come from.
Ross Stewart and Billy McKay's goals maybe the saving grace for the Staggies, as the defence was poor last season. Meanwhile, Hamilton are always priced up short in relegation markets, but Brian Rice's side always seem capable of pulling out a surprise win, as seen at Ibrox this year, to pull clear when others around them sometimes draw too often.
Tangerines could struggle
After checking out all the squads and the markets, I feel it’s Dundee United who are currently being overrated. The Tangerines have just come up from the Championship, and seem very reliant on Lawrence Shankland’s goals. It is a big step up for the Arabs and will also be a debut season in Scottish football for new manager Micky Mellon.
Defensively, United might find the step up in pace to the Premiership a bit daunting. With the squad not looking that deep at the minute, and should Shankland fail to provide the goals for the Tannadice side, they could find it a tough return to the top-flight.
The 9/1 with SkyBet for Dundee Utd to finish bottom seems a tad big to me.
Hibs to finish best of the rest
As already mentioned, the betting without Celtic and Rangers market could be a shoot-out between Aberdeen, Motherwell and Hibs.
The Easter Road side though, have made a few eye-catching signings during the summer. Kevin Nisbet could be an astute addition, adding more goals to the front line. However, the signing of Alex Gogic could be the crucial piece of the jigsaw, adding badly needed steel in the holding midfield area for Jack Ross's outfit. This should make Hibs harder to beat this season.
With no fiercely-contested Edinburgh derbies to worry about this term, the Hibees won't exactly be harmed by their capital rivals and therefore their overall points total is expected to rise.
Aberdeen (priced around 6/4) have added Jonny Hayes, but have been too reliant on Sam Cosgrove's goals in recent times. As usual they will be thereabouts – but the price is very short, for me.
Motherwell (13/2) did very well last season and can go on good runs at times, but are no stranger to bad runs throughout a season, as seen with their early 2020 form. They have some good creative and attacking options, but Declan Gallagher aside, I’m not sure if they are completely watertight in defence.
Hibernian should progress under Ross, so at the prices they seem to be the value.