23rd January 2009 #1
SPL Betting: Rangers chase rare win at in-form Dons
It's game on in the SPL title race but only if Rangers can win at Pittodrie for the first time in five visits, writes John Girvan.
The championship race could be wide open once again after last week's results took Celtic out from [1.36] to [1.5] and Rangers in from [3.5] to [2.74].
This could change again at the weekend. The price on Rangers will tighten ever so slightly if they get an elusive win at Aberdeen in the live Setanta Sports early kick-off. It's a big if however, as The Gers recent record at Pittodrie is abysmal with only one win in their last seven at this ground.
The Dons are on a fantastic run ; they are the form team in the league with five wins in their last six outings and are gunning for a hugely impressive seventh consecutive home win. Back to back wins against both halves is a rare commodity but the gap between the Glasgow giants and those competing for third isn't as big as it was and it's making for an entertaining run in.
Walter Smith was a relieved man on Wednesday when the news broke that Sasa Papac had his sending off against Falkirk rescinded. It could be a double whammy for The Gers as this surely boosts the chances of John Fleck starting the match and building on his "Man of the Match" debut last week. The feeling amongst the support is that the 17-year-old is up to the job but it remains to be seen whether the manager shares the same view.
On current form the [4.5] on a home win is huge but like last week it's a game that can go either way and Rangers, at [1.87], find themselves as big as ever away from home in a non-Old Firm tie. A repeat of the August draw trades at [4.0] but in a match this hard to call the value lies in other markets.
This one will commence with a frantic pace and both sides will create opportunities to score. This makes Over 2.5 goals worth backing at [1.94]. It's also worth noting that you were getting [1.63] on Aberdeen just to score last week. Six days later the "No" verdict in the "Rangers Clean Sheet" Market pays out at just [1.53] but this is still worth backing.
Regardless of what happens in The Granite City beforehand I see nothing other than a home win at Celtic Park on Saturday. Gordon Strachan's side have let their advantage in the title race slip with just two wins and two draws in their last six fixtures. They shipped four poor goals in the defeat at Pittodrie last weekend but Artur Boruc looks set to return and I don't see Hibs getting anything here.
Mixu Paatelainen's side have lost their way a bit recently. They are out of both the League and Scottish Cups and it looks likely they will struggle to keep in the hunt for a European place. The Hibees brought Celtic's run of 12 consecutive victories to a halt seven weeks ago but more recently were on a three game winless streak until a 2-0 home win over St. Mirren last weekend.
Celtic might be a little low on confidence but they will be out for revenge and I see them winning by a couple. It's worth taking Celtic in a 'Multiple' at [1.34], Celtic/Celtic at [1.96] in the Half-Time/Full-Time Market and also Celtic -1.5 goals in the Asian Handicap Market at [1.98].
Elsewhere Hearts([1.64]) and Dundee United [1.74] will be fancied by many but the bet of the weekend is Motherwell at [1.99]. Mark McGhee's men pulled off a remarkable 4-0 victory at Tannadice but the gaffer wasn't the least bit surprised saying "I've been warning people this was coming".
Falkirk put in a respectable performance at Ibrox last week but they have only one point to show from their last six league outings. They are no pushovers but John Hughes' side can't seem to put teams to the sword when it appears they have the upper hand.
Motherwell appear to have turned the corner after a series of three wins and a draw. The confidence of last season looks to be returning and The Steelmen could yet challenge for a European place.
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