Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today In The SPL

A week that began with the rumble in the tunnel at Hamilton ended with the rumble in newspapers over the terrible referees that blight the Scottish game. About which more, I'm sure, later.

Anyway this week's SPL fixture list looks a little like this:

Aberdeen v Hamilton

That Hamilton actually won their game against Hearts last week has been somewhat overshadowed by the events that followed in the tunnel. Radio Scotland's Charlie Mann seemed to think witnessing the stramash transformed him into a breathless hybrid of Norman Mailer chronicling Ali and John Simpson liberating Kabul.

Leaving all that aside it was proof, as I predicted last week, that Hamilton will get a few results this season that will keep Falkirk fearful and others in the bottom six looking over their shoulders. Consistency will be the key. For Mark McGhee last week's defeat at Celtic will have confirmed the feeling that Aberdeen lack the depth required to fight for third right now. They should, however, be strong enough to clinch a home win today.

Hearts v Dundee United

Csaba Lazlo and Craig Levein are two of the leading exponents of the new referee hating craze that has swept the dugouts of the SPL. But with Lazlo scrambling to keep out of the basement and Levein attempting to plot a route to the toppermost of the poppermost they have little else in common. Hearts need the spirit and organisation that Dundee United rarely lack but Lazlo can't seem to find it. An away win. Possibly quite comfortably.

Kilmarnock v Hibernian

John Hughes joined the chorus of approval that seems to greet big Kevin Kyle's every move this week. He also said that Hibs won't be splashing the cash. So rumours that the Easter Road abacus is working over time as they plot an Ayrshire raid for the giant hitman might be wide of the mark.

Tittle tattle aside Hibs appeared to hit something like the form Hughes demands against Motherwell last week. Rugby Park has not been a happy hunting for them in the past but, like those around them in the bottom six, consistency seems to be the enemy of Kilmarnock at the moment. Away win.

Motherwell v Celtic (12.45 kick off)

Like an overweight, lagered up skinhead in an ill fitting shellsuit waging a war of attrition on a suspected local paedophile, Jim Gannon is launching metaphorical bricks through the window of any referee he can find. It's a battle he obviously feels he needs to fight but there is a danger that it distracts from the good work he's doing at Fir Park.

A few wins has lightened Tony Mowbray's mood slightly but it's clear that the Mogga Project remains very much a work in progress and tomorrow would seem to be the sort of tough game that will offer evidence of the success he's having in papering over the considerable cracks in his team. I'll back him to do it tomorrow with a tight away win.

Rangers v St Johnstone

Tom Cruise watched Rangers lose their final game of a disappointing Champion's League campaign during the week. Anyway who makes a joke about Rangers attracting crazed religious fanatics would do well to grow up.

On paper this should be the game that sees Rangers begin their campaign to reassert some level of domestic dominance. But football isn't played on paper, or so my Bumper Book of Football Cliches tells me. For that reason I'm going to take a long shot on this one. I can see the Saints taking a point back to Perth. So there.

St Mirren v Falkirk

The promised land of 11th place seems to be forever out of Falkirk's grasp at the moment. For all the points against Celtic and brave, if futile, performances against Hibs it is these games they need to start doing something in. Everyone else in the bottom six beating each other is going to do them no good unless they can start winning games themselves.

On the other hand St Mirren know that if they slip up tomorrow the bottom of the league will suddenly concertina and everyone will run the risk of getting squashed. Is it to early in the season for fear to start playing a factor? I hope so, I suspect not. Draw.

Where we're at: 32/76. Pah!

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