Saturday, February 26, 2011

SPL Today: The Blogger's Curse

Work is the curse of the blogging classes.

Been feeling a bit detached from the blog this week and noticing one or two established bloggers and podcasters calling it a day recently.

Is it worth doing if it becomes a drag, if you feel you should be updating rather than writing because you want to or if you really are struggling for time?

Anyways, we fight on. Another weekend fit to burst with the kind of exhilarating action that SPL really excels at.

And more predictions, the curse of this classless blogger.

Aberdeen v Hearts

An early kick off at Pittodrie might not be ideal for travelling Hearts fans but there is incentive aplenty as Jim Jefferies’ side eye second place in the SPL with Rangers’ not in action until Sunday.

Aberdeen have their own reasons to be cheerful having taken six points over the course of the last week and diving right back in to the concertinaed pack chasing top six places.

Their is a resilience about this Hearts side. They showed that in beating Rangers in a game the Ibrox side dominated, they’ve shown it in bouncing back from away defeats to the Old Firm siblings and it was on display again last week as they beat Dundee United.

That contrasts with Aberdeen who, impressive as their resurgence has been, remain a work in progress under Craig Brown.

Aberdeen captain Paul Hartley might make a start against his old club to add another little layer of interest to what I think should be an intriguing match and a diverting match-up as Brown and Jefferies lock horns.

I expect Aberdeen to be spirited and to score. But I’m backing Hearts to close out the away win.

Hamilton v Dundee United

Abandon hope all ye who enter New Douglas Park? Hamilton’s misfortune is to be trapped at the foot of the table with their eventual relegation looking more and more inevitable.

That’s a horror of a place to be, a vortex of misery that offers little chance of escape.

They can’t win games. And that’s a gargantuan problem for a football team. The season has many a meandering twist to take but it would take a seasoned collector of spotter’s badges to work out exactly where Hamilton’s points are going to come from.

United were aggrieved in losing to Hearts last weekend and claimed a point against St Johnstone in midweek. It’s not the form of champions but it’s hardly a litany of failure from a team that remain eminently capable.

Three points today will please Peter Houston. I expect he’ll get them as the Accies nightmare continues.

Hibs v Inverness

Three wins out of three for Colin Calderwood’s rebuilt Hibernian. Some managers would mark that achievement with a song and dance routine. Calderwood makes do with becoming a smidgeon less ponderous in press conferences.

He’s made of stern stuff is Calderwood and last week’s last gasp win in a desperately poor game against St Mirren suggests he’s achieving some success in his attempts to instill the resolute gruffness in his players.

Inverness also had cause for celebration last weekend as they halted what had become a lengthy slump with a win over St Johnstone.

All of which means today is a clash between two teams hoping that the green shoots of recovery are more than a mirage but also, hopefully, playing with less of the fear that has hampered them recently.

It would be nice think to that could lead to a game of ebullient, carefree football. But I’m sure the Hibs will accept the stuffy, scrappy three points I expect them to get.

Kilmarnock v St Mirren

Just a few short months ago if you’d heard that Aberdeen and Kilmarnock had finished 5-0 you would have nodded appreciation of Mixu Paatelainen’s Kilmarnock and wondered how low Aberdeen could sink.

All of which made Kilmarnock’s tonking at Pittodrie last week  more difficult to fathom. They have not become a bad side and Paatelainen’s revolution remains admirable.

Unfortunately they do not have the depth or quality of squad that would allow them to cope with the loss of key players or the loss of confidence. A hammering at Pittodrie is a painful way to learn that lesson.

St Mirren’s sorry search for consistency continues. Offering little against Hibs on Sunday they bounced back to beat Motherwell on Wednesday. That might continue to flummox Danny Lennon but it has been enough to see them shift clear of Hamilton in the struggle to avoid the drop.

What reaction will Kilmarnock show today? And which St Mirren will turn up? While I wait to see how those questions resolve themselves I’ll predict a draw.

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