By Rory West
As we approach Christmas the Scottish Premiership shows no sign of slowing down as we enter the first set of two fixtures this week.
Hamilton vs Rangers
All the way back on the first weekend of the season, Hamilton Accies spoiled Rangers’ return to Scottish football’s top flight earning a surprise 1-1 draw at Ibrox, a draw that would be the first of many.
Despite no wins in their last two Accies won’t be going into this on a complete downer, a respectable draw away at Inverness and a credible performance against league leaders Celtic see Accies only two points off the top six.
Rangers however have won two in a row and against second place rivals Aberdeen and Hearts. The Gers are beginning to look like the side they were last season as they look to hold onto second spot in Friday night’s game.
A draw is unlikely here for me and I’m going for a 2-1 Rangers win.
Celtic vs Dundee
This is basically just another fixture for Celtic as they aim to wrap the title up before the winter break.
The champions still have two games in hand over second placed Rangers with an 11 point gap over them.
Dundee come into this one off the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Ross County, which won’t help morale going into the toughest fixture on the calendar. A defeat for Dundee could see them potentially slip into bottom place which is somewhere were they certainly don’t want to be going into Christmas.
I can only see this one going one way and that is a Celtic win. 3-0 Celtic.
Hearts vs Partick Thistle
Ian Cathro makes his Tynecastle debut as his side take on Premiership strugglers Partick. Thistle put up a good fight in the last meeting between the sides back in August when Robbie Neilson was still in charge of the Jambos although the 2-1 defeat at Firhill.
The Jam Tarts will be desperate to find their form again after last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Ibrox and I can see them doing just that.
Ian Cathro to pick up his first win as Hearts boss in a 2-0 victory.
Kilmarnock vs Inverness
The previous encounter between these two sides finished in a 1-1 draw but I can’t see that being the same result this time.
Caley will be desperate to steer themselves away from the relegation zone and are in need to hit some form again but this one won’t be easy for them against a Killie side who still somehow find themselves in the top six.
A hard fought draw last weekend against Motherwell kept Lee Clark’s puncing above theri weight in the top six and I can see them staying there with a narrow 1-0 win.
Ross County vs Aberdeen
Aberdeen’s aim for this weekend will be for the game to see out more than 10 minutes unlike their midweek fixture versus Motherwell.
County will be looking to avenge the 4-0 hammering that Aberdeen laid on them earlier this season at Pittodrie.
Both sides will be keen for a victory to set them on the road to where they both intend to be come the end of the season. The top six for County and second place for Aberdeen.
I can’t see this one being the prettiest of affairs but who knows I could be proved wrong. I’m going for a 3-1 Aberdeen victory.
St Johnstone vs Motherwell
The Perth Saints’ continue to play their role as the battlers of the league continuing to snatch points when nobody expects it out of them.
Motherwell are the visitors to McDiarmid Park this week but I can’t see St Johnstone adding to their draw at Pittodrie last week. Almost stick on’s for fifth spot, St Johnstone have a tendency to drop off at home.
Motherwell will be desperate to claw themselves away from the mire of the relegation dogfight and a win would do just that.
2-1 to St Johnstone was the score the last time these sides met and I feel the scoreline will be the same, the visitors coming away with the points, 2-1 Motherwell.