Saturday, March 13, 2010

SPL Preview

Three SPL games today. Meaning six teams are given a fairly emphatic reminder that they've already been dumped out of the cup.

Falkirk v St Johnstone

When are Falkirk going to start picking up the points they need? They need to start soon. They won't start today. Away win.

Hamilton v St Mirren

Got to be convinced this has draw written all over it.

Motherwell v Hearts

A chance to move up to joint third for Motherwell, a chance to get firmly back in the race for third for the Jambos. Big chance for both. Draw.

53 out of 128 so far. Hmmm.

Scottish Cup Quarter Finals

Scottish Cup quarter final day. Someone's going to Hampden. Someone's going hame.

Kilmarnock v Celtic (12.15/Sky)

The league is gone and the best response Celtic seem to be able to muster is scratching their heads and asking each other what happened. The Scottish Cup is the last chance for some level of redemption amid the doom and gloom of Tony Mowbray's botched Celtic experiment. That makes defeat at Rugby Park tomorrow unthinkable. Unthinkable for a team less fragile than this Celtic side anyway. For this group of players, with this manager? Still favourites and I'll back the away win. Wouldn't be surprised if Kilmarnock get something though.

Hibs v Ross County (2pm)

An early kick off because Easter Road is currently without floodlights. This is the stage when Hibs fans start to panic in the Scottish Cup, as the great annual odyssey reaches the stage where disappointment seems to stalk them. The euphoria of an "easy" draw will have been replaced by fear at losing to a lower division side. Is there much chance of that? Ross County will be up for a scrap and Hibs have been creaky of late. There won't be many in Leith relishing this one. Still I'm backing the home win.

Dundee v Raith (3pm)

So who is going to grab the chance? The team with SPL aspirations anxious to prove they're already capable of mixing it with the big boys? Or the plucky outsiders who know a semi final can ease their club's financial woes. So it's a hearts and heads kind of match. The head wins. Home win.

Rangers v Dundee United (Sunday 12.05/BBC2)

Can United stop Rangers' march to domestic dominance? This game will be a closer affair than the 7-1 league drubbing Rangers handed out the last time these two met at Ibrox. But you've still got to fancy Rangers to make it through for their seven billionth semi final in a row. Home win. Maybe by just the odd goal though.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Getting it wrong

I think we can probably now concede that Rangers have won the league. 13 points ahead after last night’s win they can now claim the title in just six games. Although even that might be quicker if Celtic, currently closer to fifth than first on points, throw anything more away.

A stunning achievement given the financial constraints and the sparseness of Walter Smith’s squad. Somehow Smith has kept them plugging away, although even he will be amazed by the way that Celtic have imploded.

More on all these things later in the season. For now though I thought I’d take a trip back in time. This is how I predicted the outcome of the SPL back in August:

Champions: Celtic, Celtic, Celtic. I said that last year but I'm even more convinced this time out that Rangers won't be able to match the pace Celtic set. Last year Rangers relied on a late push as Celtic stumbled. This year I'd guess their chance comes if they hit the ground running as Mowbray's philosophies and endless talk of looking players in the eye takes time to bed in. Even then I'd fancy Celtic to reel them in.

Was I alone in getting this so wrong?