The Scottish Premier League kicks-off on Friday night, with newly promoted Partick Thistle taking on Dundee United at Firhill. Here we look at the odds for the title, winner without Celtic and relegation.
Well, I could have filled this section with one word, Celtic. The Hoops are an astounding 1/40 to regain the title with Ladbrokes. They finished sixteen points clear, which could have been more, with Neil Lennon resting players for games in their fantastic Champions League run.
In the transfer window, the two biggest losses have been Victor Wanyama to Southampton and Gary Hooper to Norwich City. They have looked to replace Hooper with Amido Balde from Vitoria Guimaraes, while they have also brought in Derek Boerrigter and Virgil Van Dijk from Holland.
Winner Without Celtic
The odds pretty much tell the story, so unless you fancy sticking a few hundred grand on the Hoops to recoup something out of the bet, it’s probably worth looking at a winner without Celtic punt. This seems to be a two horse race between Aberdeen and Motherwell.
Aberdeen‘s glory days of the eighties are long gone and they’ve have had to fight amongst the rest in recent years. However, with financial issues slowly being repaired, the squad improved and no European football so they are well placed to finish second with Coral quoting 11/4 to finish as “Winners without Celtic”. Although they have seen Gavin Rae, Rory Fallon and Isaac Osbourne leave among the six gone, they have brought in some good quality, with Barry Robson, Willo Flood, Gregg Wyldd and keeper Nicky Weaver adding to a talented, young squad. They’ve had a good pre-season so far, including an excellent victory over Dutch side Twente. It’s going to be a tough fight for second though, but I feel they will just pip Motherwell.
Motherwell are quoted at 3/1 to win without Celtic with Boylesport. The side that finished second last year, finished seven points clear of third, but could do nothing about the Champions. Warm-up games have not really been great with a win over Morecambe the only victory. They have lost a few of their top men so far this Summer with Henrik Ojamaa, Michael Higdon, Chris Humphrey and Darren Randolph leaving. They have managed to replace goalkeeper Randolph with former Manchester City keeper, Gunnar Neilsen, and have supplemented the outgoing players with Stephen McManus, former Hearts striker, John Sutton and 22 year-old Henri Ania from Viking of Norway. I feel, despite the signings, that they may fall short of last season’s performance, but if John Sutton fires them in, as he can do, they will always be in with a shout.
Dundee United are an interesting outside bet, with the Tangerines coming in at 7/1 with SkyBet. Word of warning though, they have had a massive clear-out of the squad with ten players shipped out including Willo Flood, Johnny Russell, Barry Douglas and John Daly. They have managed to bring in a string of players, but most come from the lower league, although David Goodwillie returning from Blackburn Rovers and Nadir Cifti from NAC of Holland are definitely the highlights. They have won the last two preseason games, so signs of the side gelling are good and with Gary Mackay-Steven pulling the strings, they should have enough about them to be up there at the crunch.
Favourites for relegation are Hearts Of Midlothian, a very short 4/7 with BetFred. Hearts are in turmoil, with the club in financial limbo, debts of £28.5 million, a transfer embargo until February and players contracts terminated, all add to a situation that will only get worse. There is nothing to report on the transfer front apart from former player Danny Wilson, making his loan move a permanant one from Liverpool, pre embargo. I’d pick these as a banker, however, one word of caution, if you go for Hearts, make sure the bookmaker has something in place, in case the side get liquidated and fall out of the league.
Second favourites are newly promoted Partick Thistle at 6/1 BetVictor. Partick are back in the big time again and will hope they can stay there on this occasion. They won the Division One title by eleven points last year. Two of their stars, Chris Erskine and Paul Paton were snapped up by Dundee United recently, but they have managed to keep the squad together and add to it, with ‘keeper Paul Gallacher, signing from Ross County, Isaac Osbourne from Aberdeen, and the surprising signature of Mexican defender Gabriel De La Vega from Rayo Vallecano in Spain. With Hearts major financial problems, Thistle should have little problem surviving, but early results could prove vital.