Saturday 21st November 2015 Kickoff: 1500hrs
Dundee United v St Johnstone
Football – Scotland – Premiership
The 2015/16 Premiership season has been rather disastrous for Dundee United thus far. Currently bottom of the table and three points behind Partick Thistle, the nearest club to them, United are also on their second manager of the campaign. Jackie McNamara was relieved of his duties last month and was replaced with Mixu Paatalainen. Paatalainen is a former player at the club and has also taken charge of Hibernian and Kilmarnock. Following a very disappointing start to the season, where Dundee United managed only one win in their first 10 games, the board saw fit to make a change in an attempt to move them away from the relegation zone. Unfortunately – going by the first few games under Paatitalainen – appears that it will take more than a change of manager to achieve that.
As bad a season as it has been for United, it’s been the complete opposite for St Johnstone who continue to go from strength to strength. Four consecutive top six finishes, including a couple of fourth-placed efforts, combined with their Scottish Cup win in 2014 has been part of a real purple patch. It’s also meant a brief experience of European football and that would appear to be the aim for this season. Tommy Wright’s men are fourth at the moment and trail third-placed Aberdeen by five points, and Hearts, who occupy second, by a further point. The Saints come into this game in very good form having five of their last six in the league, including their last three. It’s been a very good recovery after what was a less than auspicious start to the season.
The joint-lowest scorers and the worst defensive record are two titles that nobody wishes to hold, particularly together, but that’s exactly the fate of Dundee United after 14 games. Scoring goals has been a huge issue for them, especially over the last couple of months. One goal in their last five games is symptomatic of their struggles in front of goals, and their form in general. The loss of Nadir Ciftci to Celtic over the summer is obviously a critical factor in their poor goal return, as the Turkish striker had scored 25 league goals in the last couple of seasons. The departure of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven back in January – to the same club incidentally – has also reduced the creativity in the team.
St Johnstone actually had to wait until their fifth game of the season to record their first win in the league, which would have been somewhat concerning for Wright and his backroom staff having enjoyed such a successful campaign, last season. Those concerns are fast disappearing after their recent run, and sights are firmly fixed on looking up rather than down. It’s been their away from which has been particularly impressive having won their last five in all competitions. Within that time the Perth club have found their scoring boots, notching 16 goals. Five of those came against Aberdeen whilst they also brushed aside Rangers in the League Cup, winning 3-1 on that occasion. Only Celtic have scored more goals away from home in the league – illustrating how potent St Johnstone’s attack has been in recent weeks.
Dundee United v St Johnstone Betting Tips
The Tayside derby may not be the biggest game of this weekend but it’s one that could either act as a turning point for Dundee United’s season or confirm that they will be firmly involved in a relegation battle for the entirety of the campaign – at the same time consolidating St Johnstone’s position in the top four.
Dundee United’s only home win of the season came in their most recent game at Tannadice when they defeated Ross County 1-0. That will give the Arabs’ fans hope but they were unable to follow it up in their next game when losing 2-0 at Aberdeen. The visitors have already beaten Hamilton and Inverness on the road this season, as well as that impressive victory over Aberdeen. Tommy’s Wright men were also successful on their last visit to Dundee United – running out 2-0 winners back in February.
Four of Dundee United’s seven home games in the league have resulted in both teams scoring whilst six of St Johnstone’s away games have seen the same. The bookmakers are well aware of this, however, and both teams to score is priced accordingly. I’m more interested in the away side here, but I’m not sure they are great value at their current odds. Instead, such has been their scoring rate over the last couple of months, I fancy the away side to score a couple more on Saturday. They have already knocked past two+ goals against Hearts, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hamilton this season, whilst also scoring twice in the home fixture against United, despite playing with 10 men for the majority of the game. United have conceded at least two against Celtic, Kilmarnock and Dundee this season.
Over 1.5 St Johnstone goals 6/5 @ Skybet