It was a weekend of surprises in the Ladbrokes Premiership, with both of the Glasgow giants held to a draw by impressive opponents, which allowed in-form St Johnstone and resurgent Aberdeen to take advantage with a pair of hard-fought wins.
So, what did the weekend’s action tell us about the season ahead? For starters, the signs are good at McDiarmid Park.
St Johnstone are onto a winning formula
Tommy Wright’s men have upset the odds two seasons in a row with top-four finishes in the Ladbrokes Premiership, and the early signs suggest they could be on course for another one, following two very solid and professional displays.
Despite coming under serious pressure against an impressive Hearts attack, the Saints became the first side to keep a clean sheet against Gorgie outfit in four games, thanks to a resolute defence and great goalkeeping from Zander Clark.
It’s back-to-back wins to nil following the 2-0 triumph at Partick Thistle, thanks to Graham Cummins’ instinctive – if slightly fortunate – winner. Currently in third spot, there seems plenty of value in backing Saints to finish top of the table without Celtic at 20/1.
Rangers shoring things up defensively
We doff our cap to those who backed Rangers v Ross County to finish 0-0 at those pre-match odds of 14/1, with the previous 28 Gers games having produced at least one goal. But right from the get-go, this had the air of a cautious display from the hosts.
After their derby day defeat, it’s understandable that Mark Warburton’s men played an unusually conservative style to try and boost their confidence at the back. And despite Alex Schalk’s first-half effort almost squirming in, the hosts will be pleased to have kept things tight.
However, while a first clean sheet in the Ladbrokes Premiership is something for the Ibrox outfit to build on, anything less than victory at Aberdeen on Sunday (6/4) could see title hopes fall further from their grasp.
Magnificent Moult shows he has every attribute
From ice-cool tap-ins to instinctive headers, Motherwell striker Louis Moult left Hamilton Academical keeper Remi Matthews picking the ball out of his net time and again, as he netted a fantastic four goals in the Lanarkshire Derby.
The 24-year-old forward made the most of excellent service from Ryan Bowman and Richard Tait on the flanks, to finish with aplomb time and time again. With a superb first touch, clinical eye for goal and electric pace, he’s sure to cause problems for defences throughout the season.
If he can deliver performances of this quality on a regular basis, the 10/1 for Moult to finish as Premiership top scorer could turn out to be easy money. But he’s sure to find tougher defensive tests, because…
Fine up front, but Canning must fix Accies backline
Four defeats from six in all competitions has highlighted the frailties of Accies’ backline, though there have been reasons to be positive at the other end, with the South Lanarkshire side finding the net in all 11 of their games this season.
While they were up against a striker in red-hot form in the shape of Louis Moult, the Hamilton defence were caught cold by their opponents’ sharp attacking time and again, with a crucial penalty given away by a clumsy challenge from Darren Lyon.
Despite possessing creativity in midfield and a genuinely top-notch goalscorer in Ally Crawford, Hamilton’s defensive problems mean Martin Canning’s men look good value to finish bottom of the table at 9/4.
Aberdeen stars get off the mark at crucial time
With the likes of Jayden Stockley, Niall McGinn and Kenny McLean in their ranks, the Dons’ goal-shy start to the season surprised many, but one of the league’s most talented squads now seem to be gelling as the Ladbrokes Premiership table takes shape.
Talented Norwich City loanee James Maddison showed his immense quality and confidence with this terrific solo equaliser as Aberdeen won 3-1 at Dundee, making them the first visitors to score more than two at Dens Park in 23 games.
Jayden Stockley showed his athletic ability with an inch-perfect header to put the Dons ahead, before Kenny McLean stepped up to take and (just about!) score his penalty. With McInnes’ men now hitting their stride, the 5/6 for them to finish top without the Old Firm could be a very smart bet indeed.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing