Ladbrokes Premiership: Bhoys will bounce back, but only just

Celtic may be smarting from a Europa League exit, but they have a perfect opportunity to put that right on Sunday when they return to domestic action in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The Bhoys fixture rounds off five games across the country in Scotland’s top division after St Johnstone and Dundee go head-to-head on Friday night.

We take a look at the five games that see us through the weekend in the division.

Aberdeen v Ross County

While County have picked up plenty of points in Dingwall this term, it is their away form that has seen a gap open up between them and fourth-placed St Johnstone.

Jim McIntyre’s men haven’t won away from home in the Premiership for more than three months, with their only points in that period coming from two draws against the two sides propping up the table.

Aberdeen have the perfect man to make that poor form on the road continue in Adam Rooney, with last season’s top scorer netting in six of the Dons’ last seven matches at Pittodrie.

Derek McInnes’ men will be desperate for victory to keep the pressure on the league leaders, but with four of their last five seeing less than three goals scored, it might not be a thriller on the east coast.

Best bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 17/20

Dundee United v Hamilton Academical

The Terrors find themselves detached at the bottom of the table, six points from Motherwell above them, but they are not the only ones coming into this fixture out of form.

Between them United and the Accies have won just one match since September, with the hosts netting just two goals in their last six matches.

Once again though, their opponents this week have hardly been free-scoring of late.

If Hamilton fail to improve on their slow starts – they’ve scored just one first half goal in their last 10 league games – their form could continue to dip and they could find themselves dropping out of the top six.

Best bet: HT Score 0-0 @ 7/4

Kilmarnock v Partick Thistle

The Jags could usurp their opponents at Rugby Park this weekend with three points, as they continue their recovery from a slow start and push towards the top half.

Alan Archibald’s men have won three of their last six games, all against sides higher than them in the table and look a team on the up.

This mid-table battle has certainly seen plenty of goals scored in previous meetings, with both teams finding the net in 13 of the last 14 head-to-heads.

You can certainly expect the hosts to get on the scoresheet, with Thistle keeping just one clean sheet in their last 12 league matches.

Best bet: Both teams to score @ 4/5

Motherwell v Hearts

The Jambos failed to take advantage of Celtic’s draw against Kilmarnock last week to close the gap, so need to get back to winning ways if they are to continue to push the Bhoys.

With the leaders playing on Sunday, Hearts can close the gap to three points with victory over a Well side that have lost their last two matches, conceding six goals in the process.

That run could be set to continue with the Jam Tarts being inspired on the road of late, winning two of their last three (that draw being at Parkhead), without conceding a single goal.

Hearts have only won one of their last nine visits to Fir Park so they will have to improve that record here.

Best bet: Hearts to win to nil @ 13/5

Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic

Many managers and teams lament the fact that they have to play Europa League matches on a Thursday night before taking to the field at the weekend, but that hasn’t seemed to affect the Bhoys this term.

Ronnie Deila’s men have won all eight Premiership matches that have followed forays into Europe this season and will be keen to continue that run after their Ajax disappointment.

While the Glasgow outfit have been in dominant form in the league for much of this season, don’t expect a whitewash.

Caley Thistle have only lost by more than one goal twice in their last 50 home matches in the league, so even if the Hoops return to winning ways, it might be tight.

Best bet: Celtic to win to nil @ 11/4

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.