SPL betting

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Dundee United v Hearts Betting Tip 1 – Saturday 9 February 2013

European Football Tips

Dundee United duly obliged for the column last weekend with a facile 3-0 win over Rangers in the Scottish Cup. It was, as predicted, the perfect start for Jackie McNamara in his new role as Dundee United manager and this weekend he faces his first SPL match as a manager when his side host Hearts at Tannadice. These matches or often very close encounters and McNamara will be making his players aware of that fact despite such a convincing win last time out. Dundee United know they have to improve their league form and regain some sort of consistency if they want to climb the table. A win on Saturday could see them jump a couple of places to fifth and it could also continue the good feeling surrounding the club since the new manager was appointed.

Hearts’ season has been memorable for a lot of the wrong reasons with so many problems off the park taking precedence over their fortunes on the field. They also had to suffer the fate of exiting the Scottish Cup – a competition they won last season – to their arch rivals, Hibs. A lot of that has been forgotten about, however, after Hearts reached the final of the League Cup with a penalties win over Inverness at the end of the last month. They will face St Mirren on St Patrick’s day in a bid to lift a trophy for the second successive season but they too must improve their league form. Level on points with this weekend’s opponents, Hearts have one win in their last five and coincidentally, that came against the other Dundee club.

It’s a match which is sure to be competitive as there is very little between the sides, evidenced by both being level on points and with almost identical goal differences. Hearts have picked up four points from their last two league games following their semi-final victory and head to Dundee knowing they have not lost any of their last three games at Tannadice. Dundee United were impressive in their win over Rangers and could have scored more. If they can repeat that performance on Saturday then I’m confident they will pose the Hearts defence problems. I’m putting faith in McNamara continuing with his excellent start by leading his players to all three points.

Dundee United 8/5  @ William Hill

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Dundee v Dundee United Betting Tip 2 – Sunday 9 December 2012

European Football Tips

Six weeks ago it looked like a foregone conclusion that Dundee would be returning to the Scottish Division One at the first time of asking. They were rooted to the foot of the table with just four points to their name and had lost six straight games. November brought about a change of form for them, however, and they picked up seven points from four matches, including wins against both Edinburgh clubs at Dens Park. Despite losing their most recent SPL match they responded well with victory away to Livingston in the cup. It’s a sign that there is more desire and determination around the players which was lacking in the earlier stages of the season. Sunday’s match against neighbours Dundee United will be another test but they go into it in far better shape than when the two first met back in August.

It’s fair to say that Dundee United have underperformed in the league this season having won just five of their 15 fixtures. With Rangers’ demotion to Division three coupled with a fourth placed finish last term, expectations were high amongst the United support that they could mount a serious challenge for second placed. That’s not been the case thus far and it could have been expected as Peter Houston’s men tend to finish campaigns stronger than they begin them. Add to that the loss of several players over the summer who were regulars in the side and their form is a little more understandable. A derby match away from home is the perfect game to reignite their league campaign and there has been signs of them coming back to form.

Circumstances in the close season dictated that Dundee has almost no time to prepare for their return to the SPL. It certainly had an adverse effect on their results and its little wonder considering the disadvantage they were at. Barry Smith has done an excellent job of late and the next step is to pick up a win over their arch rivals. They have lost the last three derby games scoring just the one goal. Still five points adrift of second bottom St Mirren, the points are not only important for bragging rights, they’re vital in their bid for safety.

Inconsistency has plagued United all season long – they have yet to record back to back victories in the SPL – but they have given the impression that they’re starting to find a bit more flair going forward, creating more chances and scoring more goals. There’s still a lot of work to do, especially in defence, but their recent showings in the league and cup offer home for the upcoming months. Having won 3-0 in the first derby back in August, the supporters will be confident of securing their second win over Dundee this season.

It’s an enjoyable match to watch as both sides go and try to win the game which makes for entertainment. Dundee have improved of late and they will be hoping that their preparation has been better this time around than it would have been back in August. All things considered, however, I still believe United are better equipped to win this match on Sunday and they are the selection.

Dundee United 10/11 @ Coral

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Celtic v Inverness Betting Tip Both teams to score – Saturday 24 November 2012

European Football Tips

Celtic were previewed last week for their trip to Aberdeen and despite not scoring until the 70th minute, they very nearly achieved the three goals needed for a winning bet. Since then, Neil Lennon’s men have lost 2-1 to Benfica in the Champions League which means their fate will be decided on matchday six when they take on Spartak Moscow in Glasgow and the Lisbon side travel to Barcelona. Whatever happens on December the 5th, Celtic will be playing in Europe after Christmas which is a real bonus for the club considering it’s the first time the vast majority of the players have competed at this level. Back to domestic matters and the victory at Aberdeen compiled with Hibs’ defeat at Dundee was enough for Celtic to reclaim top spot in the SPL with a game in hand. Having not won at home in the league since the beginning of October, Saturday’s game against Inverness is a chance to cement their place at the top of the Premier League.

Up until a week ago, Inverness were going along very nicely and were unbeaten in nine league games. They forfeited that record in remarkable fashion, however, losing 5-1 at home to Motherwell last Sunday. It was a disastrous performance from Terry Butchers men and one which came out of nowhere. They paid the price for starting very slowly and their opponents took advantage. Although they got the first goal in the second half to make it 2-1, Motherwell quickly reaffirmed their superiority and with Inverness pushing more and more men forward, the result was inevitable. Saturday’s trip to Celtic will be more of an examination than normal as it will be their first match since Sunday and Butcher will be hoping to see a reaction from his players, one which suggests that the performance and defeat against Motherwell was a one off.

Celtic don’t have injury problems to seek with several first team players either struggling to be fit for Saturday’s match, or definitely ruled out. Scott Brown will be absent whilst Joe Ledley and Kelvin Wilson are doubtful. Gary Hooper should line up in attack as he attempts to regain match sharpness after looking jaded on his return to first team action on Tuesday.

The most impressive aspect of Inverness’ recent good form is that they have done it playing attractive football. It’s often easy for lesser sides to pack defences and look to catch opposition sides on the break. That’s not the case for Butcher and his players as even when they were 4-1 down with 10 minutes to go last week they threw caution to the wind and attempted to claw back the deficit.

Although Rangers are now in the third division Inverness can take great heart from their 3-0 success over the other major Glasgow side in the League Cup when they make the trip to Celtic Park. They have scored a goal in each of their last 17 games in all competitions, including two against Celtic back in August. I can see them causing problems for the Champions again, tomorrow, which makes both teams to score very attractive.

Both teams to score 11/10 @ BetVictor

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Aberdeen v Celtic Betting Tip Over 2.5 goals – Saturday 17 November 2012

European Football Tips

Aberdeen have improved as the season has went on and are climbing up the lead. They have won four of their last six SPL games and find themselves in third just a point behind Celtic and three behind current leaders, Hibs. Craig Brown has been in charge for nearly two years but it’s taking time for him to stamp his authority on the club. He’s finally getting there, however, and having managed to implement a discipline and shape, he’s now turned his attention to making the Dons more of a threat going forward. That’s evidenced by the fact his team have scored 16 goals in their last seven league games. It’s a stark contrast to their early season form when they scored just four goals in their first six games.

Celtic relinquished top spot in the SPL after drawing with St Johnstone at home last Sunday. It was their third straight game without a win in the league which is in stark contrast to their European form as they are just a draw away from making the last 16 of the Champions League following their sensational 2-1 victory over Barcelona at Celtic Park. Neil Lennon does not seem overly concerned with his sides domestic fortunes but he will be wary of going four games without a win and will be well aware of how difficult Saturday’s match at Pittodrie will be.

There’s little doubt who will take many of the plaudits for Aberdeen’s recent form. Niall McGinn – formerly of Celtic – has scored seven goals in his last seven SPL matches. The Northern Irish winger has settled into life very well at his new club and will be determined to prove a point to the manager and club who released him over the summer.

It remains to be seen whether Lennon will opt to shuffle his pack ahead of the match against Benfica on Tuesday night. He’s had to do without several key players because of injury with the likes of Gary Hooper, James Forrest and Scott Brown missing games recently. Whichever side he picks it will be one set up to attack to try and win the match to go into the European match full of confidence.

Just two of Aberdeen’s last seven SPL matches have failed to beat the over two goals line. Certain bookmakers have priced this game up by reputation as opposed to form, believing that Aberdeen remain one of the more defensive sides in Scotland’s top division. There is definite value in backing the overs tomorrow.

Over 2.5 goals 10/11 @ Coral

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Inverness v Hearts Betting Tip 1 – 10 November 2012

Sports Betting Tips

Inverness are the from team in the SPL at the moment with four wins from the last five league games and unbeaten in nine in all competitions. What makes the run even more astonishing is the fact that Terry Butcher’s men went seven games without a win in the league until they broke their duck against Dundee United at the end of September. Sandwiched in between their last two SPL matches was a thoroughly convincing 3-0 success in the League Cup at Ibrox against Rangers. It’s testament to the job that Butcher has done and even more remarkable when you consider the players they have lost over the summer. As ever, ICT’s home form has been impressive as teams find it difficult to win up in the Highlands. Celtic are the only side to have beaten Caley on their home ground this season.

Hearts are in a perilous condition off the park with reports emanating from Tynecastle this week that Saturday’s match could well be their last. Just as Rangers were last season, the capital club are in dire financial difficulties and have asked supporters to see them through this difficult time. Their future will be determined soon but the management and players must focus on the job at hand. That will be easier said than done but they’re none too clever on the park either at the moment. A second loss of the season to bottom dogs Dundee (who have managed just one other point all season) was Hearts’ fifth defeat of the season and third in their last five games. It leaves them in 10th position with only St Mirren and Dundee below them.

Caley could afford to miss a penalty in their 2-1 away win against Kilmarnock last week. Having been awarded two penalties at Rugby Park, it means they have now had four spot kicks in the last four games. It’s testament to how much of an attacking threat they are this season and that is further evidenced by the fact they are the top scorers in the SPL with 25 – to put that into context, it’s four more than league leaders and Champions, Celtic.

You could argue that the off the field problems occurring at Hearts at this point in time could galvanize the players ahead of this match but I have my doubts. I’m skeptical of the situation as the owner is a very wealthy man. I’m also not sure that the quality of player that Hearts possess is much better than their opponents this weekend with very little threat going forward.

I was anticipating Inverness to be favourites for this weekend as they are in terrific form and sit in third place in the SPL. They are favourites, but only just, and I firmly believe that the value very much lies with the home team in this fixture. Take Caley to add to Hearts’ misery.

Inverness 9/5 @ BetVictor

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Hibs v St Mirren Betting Tip 1 – Saturday 3 November 2012

European Football Tips

After their comprehensive win over Motherwell last Friday, Hibernian sit second in the SPL on goal difference. Due to Rangers demotion to the Scottish Third division, many clubs were in contention to seize the opportunity that left and finish in the top two. Hibs may not have been many people’s choice to be that club after dismal league showing last season but they have improved immeasurably and it’s evidenced by their current league position. The 4-0 thrashing at Fir Park last time out was arguably their most impressive under Pat Fenlon with Leigh Griffiths at the centre of it all. He grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons last season but he seems to have matured and it’s resulted in him heading the goal scoring charts with nine league goals. Should he continue in the same form and they can keep him fit and suspension free, Hibs could well be fighting for second place come May.

St Mirren have lost their last three games in the SPL but did manage a win on penalties against Aberdeen in the quarter final of the League Cup. It would have came as a massive relief for Danny Lennon as his side went the whole of October without managing one point in the SPL. A 5-0 hammering to Celtic was sandwiched between two games where they lost by the odd goal. It has resulted in them slipping down the table after grabbing two wins from three matches previously. It remains to be seen what Tuesday’s efforts in the cup took out of them but they’ll be desperate to avoid four consecutive defeats in the league – a run of form which they haven’t experienced since 2010.

Hibs have yet to taste defeat a Easter Road this season with three wins and two defeats so far. Their defensive record is also much better at home compared to their travels which Fenlon and his coaching staff will have worked on as they made reference to the fact they conceded too many goals at home last season. They probably won’t be too pleased to see St Mirren on Saturday, however, as they haven’t managed a win over the Buddies at Easter Road in their last four games.

Despite an eight point cushion over bottom placed Dundee, Danny Lennon, his players and the supporters will not be happy with their current league position of 11th. The manager will be hoping that Tuesday’s cup success will have buoyed his players ahead of league business tomorrow but there is also the fear that they will be a touched jaded – both physically and mentally – after the extra time and penalties.

Hibs are a different opposition to that of six months ago and it’s credit to Fenlon that he has got much of the same squad working together and achieving results. St Mirren are on a bad run and despite their qualification for the semi-final of the League Cup, I can’t envisage anything other than a home win on Saturday.

Hibs 6/5 @ William Hill

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Hibs v Dundee Betting Tip 1 – 6 October 2012

Sports Betting Tips

Hibs had the chance of going top of the SPL with a win last weekend but due to their defeat away to Aberdeen they now currently sit in fifth position, just a point outside the bottom six of the division. It’s an incredibly tight league this season and any slip-up is highlighted more than usual. Despite dropping a couple of places in the standings, it has been a positive start to the new season after dismal campaign last time around. Pat Fenlon has brought in an entire new squad during his short stint at manager and it seems to be, finally, paying dividends. Still unbeaten at home after four games (two wins, two draws) they go into Saturday’s match against Dundee in buoyant mood, none more so than Leigh Griffiths. The Scotland U21 striker has been in excellent form this season and seems to be concentrating solely on his football as opposed to issues off the field. He has netted five goals in the SPL this season – Motherwell’s Michael Higdon is the only player to have scored more.

Dundee had a difficult summer as they were left in limbo for much of it due to the uncertainty of which league they would be playing in. It meant they were unable to properly prepare for life in the SPL in terms of purchasing of players and awarding new contracts to the current squad as they were not fully aware of what their budget would be until a fortnight before the season began. Manager Barry Smith has done well to even get a competitive squad together and there are signs they are getting to grips with the league. Game by game they are improving and although they are bottom of the table they are not on the receiving end of heavy defeats as they were at the start of the season. They have, however, lost their last three and need to stop the rot or run the risk of being cast adrift at the foot of the table as sides are taking points of each other. Saturday’s game represents another tough task but they will take some solace from the fact that their only SPL win to date came in the capital – against Hearts.

Hibs have a goalscorer in fine form and it will be difficult for Dundee who, despite improving, are still four points adrift of 11th place. My fear for Smith’s side is that although they are competitive in their matches – more so than they were at the beginning of the season – they still lack that vital bit of quality at both ends of the park and I can see them struggling to get wins on the board because of that.

I’m not totally convinced of Hibs but they are unbeaten at home and should be too strong – home win.

Hibs 10/13 @ Pinnacle

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Motherwell v Celtic (-1) Betting Tip 2 – Saturday 30 September 2012

European Football Tips

Motherwell play host to Celtic in a battle of two of the top three in the SPL on Saturday at Fir Park. It’s the home side who sit top of the table after three wins and four draws from their first seven matches making them the only unbeaten side in the Premier League in Scotland. Stuart McCall’s men could be sitting further clear, and probably should be, after losing two late goals last Sunday against Aberdeen. Despite leading 3-1 in the dying stages of the match they lost concentration as well as two points but it’s another league match negotiated without defeat and one which showcased their attacking talents once again. Unfortunately for McCall they were unable to transfer their league form to the cup as they were brushed aside by Third Division Rangers midweek. It’s another in a long list of capitulations at Ibrox but it would be folly to believe that they won’t bounce back with a performance at home against the Champions.

Celtic have made an indifferent start to the defence of their league title with so much emphasis on qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in four years. Players were rested; they had to contend with injuries and there was a lack of desire as well in games. Neil Lennon looks to have rectified the attitude and as they have achieved qualification, there is not as much rotation. It’s resulted in successive comfortable victories over Falkirk and most recently, Raith Rovers in the League Cup. The most pleasing aspect of both victories will be the return to form of Gary Hooper who scored five of Celtic’s six. The Englishman had a quiet start to the season, especially domestically, but he’s been prolific in his two previous season so it was only a matter of time before the goals came.

I mentioned Motherwell’s attacking threat and it’s been the key to their early season success. They are the SPL’s highest scorers and at the centre of it all is Michael Higdon. Jeered by his own supporters early in his Fir Park career, the former Falkirk and St Mirren striker is arguably ‘Well’s most important player as he not only adds goals himself, but he brings others into the game by taking the attention of them. So many opposition defenders are distracted by his presence that it allows the wide players and support striker to get in behind.

Celtic have an important Champions League match against in Moscow against Spartak on Tuesday but this match will require their full attention. There’s little doubt that Rangers’ demotion to the Third has meant that there hasn’t been the same intensity in their domestic games but they won’t want to concede anymore ground to tomorrow’s opponents. Lennon and his players will want to lay down a marker before concentrating on the European action.

The last week has saw Celtic return to something like their best and their team is a lot more settled than it was earlier in the season. Hooper is bang on form and will be popular for first goalscorer. Despite Motherwell’s good start in the league, their limitations were made apparent on Wednesday at Ibrox and I think Celtic can inflict a similar defeat – winning by more than a goal.

Celtic – 1 15/8 @ Ladbrokes

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Inverness v Aberdeen Betting Pick 2 – Saturday 15 September 2012

European Football Tips

Terry Butcher will not have been pleased with his side’s start to the season as the Highland club have failed to win any of their first five games and have lost heavily to Celtic and Motherwell in their most recent games. They sit one place off the bottom of the division with only St Johnstone worse off than them at this point. Until those two defeats, Caley had drawn their first three SPL matches – against St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Hearts. The International break definitely came at a good time for Butcher and his players as it would have provided a chance to regroup after shipping eight goals in two matches. It’s never going to be easy for a club of Inverness’ side on such a small budget but they have always been competitive and Butcher will be striving to achieve that once again.

Aberdeen fans may well be glad that they are away from home this weekend as they have yet to see a goal scored at Pittodrie in the SPL this season. Not that they have been prolific goalscorers on their travels either but their away games have at least featured some goals. After a narrow opening day defeat away to Celtic, Aberdeen have only conceded one more goal (ironically against St Johnstone during their only win). It means that the Dons have scored in just one game all season in the league which is why, despite losing one game out of five, they are in the bottom four. Craig Brown will be demanding a lot more from his players whilst the Aberdeen supporters will be demanding a lot more from both the players and the management.

One man who will be returning to Inverness is Johnny Hayes who moved to Aberdeen during the summer. There is little doubt that the winger has been missed by Caley and the lack of replacement will be a concern for the supporters who have not been out in force at home games as much in previous seasons. Hayes aside, Inverness look short on quality in a lot of areas at the moment, especially defence where they have usually been strong. As Butcher was a dominant centre half during his playing career it is likely that he will be most concerned about his side’s inability to prevent the opposition scoring.

Aberdeen, who alongside Ross County have scored the fewest goals, will be aware of how fragile their Saturday hosts have been at the back. It will be of no use to them, however, if they can’t move the ball quicker in the final third. Their defence and midfield are strong and as a unit they look organised. In order to win games they have to create more and that has been the stumbling block. The International break may also have helped them in the sense that it will allow more work on the training ground.

There is an incredible difference of 17 goals between the two sides aggregate scores in SPL games they have been involved in this season so it’s difficult to assess how the teams will approach the match. I touched on how the International break may have benefited both sides in their quest to find improvement in different areas of the park and I think that may well be what it comes down to.

Aberdeen were effective at more of the basics than Inverness in the opening month of the season and if they can just add more threat then they look the likeliest winners on Saturday.

Aberdeen 8/5 @ William Hill

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Celtic v Rangers Betting Pick 1 – Sunday 29 April 2012

Celtic

Celtic v Rangers

The final Glasgow derby of the season between Celtic and Rangers takes place on Sunday at Celtic Park and despite the league already been won, it will be as passionate as ever.

Celtic have achieved their sole objective for the season by regaining the SPL title after going four years without it. Of course, the cup competitions have proven to be a little disappointing after a loss to Kilmarnock in the League Cup final, coupled with a last minute defeat against Hearts in the semi final of the Scottish Cup. Some would argue that it’s a missed opportunity in terms of landing a domestic treble but if you were to offer the campaign to the management, players and support at the start of the season, then they would have bitten your hand off. The League is, rightly, viewed as the most important and anything else is a bonus. Last Sunday’s win over Motherwell was a return to winning ways after the semi-final defeat and it was a dream come true for debutant Tony Watt who was on the field for less than ten minutes before notching his first goals for the Celtic first team. Having clinched the league in advance of the final few games, it provided an opportunity for manager Neil Lennon to field some players who haven’t been featuring of late.

Rangers have been dealt a further blow this week with the news that the SFA have banned them from buying players for 12 months. In a season they will want to forget, it’s another crushing blow considering the Administrators have yet to find a new buyer for the club and any prospective buyers will have to consider their position further because of the transfer embargo. On the field they are enjoying a spell of good form with four straight wins in the SPL. Their latest victory was an impressive 3-0 win away to Hearts last Saturday in which Sone Aluko was at the forefront of everything going forward. As the winger is on a short term deal until the end of the season, it could be that the Rangers support have four more games to enjoy his abilities. Sunday’s derby against Celtic will provide another opportunity for Ally McCoist to get the better of his counterpart Neil Lennon with the head to head in the Rangers manager’s favour of 2-1.

Lennon is likely to take the fixture seriously and resort to playing his strongest eleven after experimenting last Sunday. It should mean a return for the likes of Fraser Forster, Georgios Samaras and Adam Matthews. Scott Brown is struggling with an injury and could miss out meaning Victor Wanyama would move into midfield from defence.

Rangers, as has been documented, don’t have a lot of options so the same players who played last Saturday are likely to start again. More worryingly for the club is the fact that several of these players are out of contract in the summer and with this embargo in place, will be unable to re-sign them, or replace them.

Celtic could have clinched the title at Ibrox last month but never turned up that day and Rangers ran out 3-2 winners. At home, and with the backing of their support, I believe they will have far too much for the visitors.

My Selection: Celtic to beat Rangers

Best odds available: 5/6 available with BetVictor

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