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Scottish Premier League – Week 3 previews

Aberdeen v Hearts

Hearts have enjoyed good recent results at Pittodrie – Aberdeen have won only two of the last eleven league meetings at home – and a victory for Paulo Sergio’s side would be their 100th over Aberdeen in the league. Peter Pawlett is missing for Aberdeen as he serves the second game of his two-match suspension. John Sutton scored twice when Hearts won the first meeting of the sides this season 3-0 – Aberdeen’s biggest defeat of the season – while Stephen Elliott has scored in both Hearts’ last two games.

Celtic v Rangers

post6aRangers will be without defender Dorin Goian through suspension but Lee McCulloch is available after the Ibrox club appealed his red card against St Mirren last weekend. Celtic’s Daniel Majstorovic is out for five weeks with a fractured cheekbone but Emilio Izaguirre and Kelvin Wilson could both start after returning to the bench against Kilmarnock at the weekend. The last six Parkhead meetings in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League have seen two wins apiece and two draws, but on-form Celtic have won their last eight league games. Rangers by contrast have won only three of their last six and their lead at the top of the table has been cut to one point.

Hibernian v Inverness CT

Hibs manager Pat Fenlon has promised changes as he seeks his first win as Easter Road manager. Striker Garry O’Connor – who scored the winner the last time the clubs met – missed Saturday’s defeat at Tannadice with a toe injury and is doubtful as Hibs look forward to the Edinburgh derby. Hibs have lost their last four games while Caley Thistle haven’t kept a clean sheet since they beat Hibs 2-0 in May – but the Highlanders have won ten of the twenty league meetings of the clubs.

Motherwell v Dunfermline Athletic

Motherwell will be missing Steve Jennings as he serves the second game of a two-match ban while Dunfermline are likely to keep Chris Smith in goal as Paul Gallacher remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. Dunfermline have won only once in their last ten visits to Fir Park and the SPL’s bottom side have taken just one point from their last six games. Home form has been Motherwell’s achilles heel though – they haven’t won a game at Fir Park for three months.

St Johnstone v Kilmarnock

post6bKillie’s Christmas Eve defeat to Celtic was their first loss in five games – and they’ve won five of their last nine against St Johnstone. Steve Lomas’ side’s form has been patchy – their win at Dunfermline on Saturday was their first win in four matches. Cillian Sheridan and Frazer Wright will remain on the sidelines for them because of injury.

St Mirren v Dundee United

Saints captain Jim Goodwin is missing as he serves the second match of his three-game suspension. Three of the last four meetings of these sides have ended in 1-1 draws – but Saints will seek to build on last weekend’s win over Rangers. They’ve lost only two of their last eight games. But the only defeats United have suffered in their last nine games have been to the Old Firm.

Scottish Premier League – Week 2 previews

Dundee United v Aberdeen

Aberdeen’s win over United in October was only their second over the Tannadice side in eleven meetings. However the only defeats United have suffered in their last ten games have been against the Old Firm. Peter Pawlett returns from suspension for the Dons, who hope to have Fraser Fyvie available, while United could give new signing Richie Ryan his debut. Their youngster Scott Allan will travel south for transfer talks with West Bromwich Albion next week.

Dunfermline Athletic v Celtic

Dunfermline are the only side in British senior football without a home league win this season and their prospects of changing that statistic look bleak – they’ve lost their last eight games against Celtic and haven’t beaten them at East End Park in thirty meetings. Table-topping Celtic have won nine games in a row. Celtic’s Beram Kayal is out for a month with an ankle injury sustained in the midweek Old Firm game. Swedish international defender Mikael Lustig has completed his move to Celtic from Norwegians Rosenborg Trondheim but won’t be involved. Dunfermline are set to be without Joe Cardle who has a virus, and knee injury victim Martin Hardie.

Hibernian v Hearts

post5aPat Fenlon is still searching for his first victory as Hibs manager and will know the Capital derby would be the perfect place to do it. However Hibs’ home record in these games is poor – just one win in the last nine Easter Road meetings. Hibs hope to do a deal with Wolves, who’ve told loan striker Leigh Griffiths he can leave Molineux, and are awaiting international clearance for Eoin Doyle. Hearts made five changes for the midweek visit to Pittodrie and Paulo Sergio is likely to reshuffle again, though Jamie Hamill and Ian Black are doubtful. Jason Thomson has returned to the club from his loan spell at Dunfermline.

Inverness CT v St Johnstone

Saints go into the game on a good run of form, having won four of their last seven games. Kevin Moon has been given a new 18-month deal with Saints. Caley have Richie Foran missing through suspension but have won only one of their last five at home and haven’t kept a clean sheet all season. Chris Millar of Saints is struggling with a back injury.

Kilmarnock v St Mirren

Killie have taken only one point from their last three games and are set to be without defender Rory McKeown after he limped off against St Johnstone in midweek. Jim Goodwin misses out for Saints as he serves the final game of his three-game suspension, but they hope Graham Carey will make it. Killie won all three meetings of the sides last season but lost 3-0 to the Paisley Saints in September.

Rangers v Motherwell

250th league meeting of the sides and Motherwell have lost 24 goals in their last six games against Rangers. They haven’t won at Ibrox since May 1997. Stuart McCall’s side will be without Steve Jennings who has to serve the second match of his suspension following the postponement of Wednesday’s game against Dunfermline but Dorin Goian is available after suspension for Rangers, who will be without Steven Whittaker who’s sidelined with a groin injury. Motherwell have offered a short-term deal to Estonian striker Henrik Ojamaa

Scottish Premier League – Week 1 previews

Hibernian 1 Hearts 3

Two late goals earned Hearts victory in the Capital derby. Hearts had the perfect opportunity to go ahead when Callum Booth was short with a passback and Graham Stack brought down Stephen Elliott inside the box – but Ian Black’s penalty was saved by the Hibs ‘keeper. However Hearts went in front after the interval when Black’s corner was met by Webster and, although Stack blocked his effort on the line, Ryan McGowan made sure from close range. Hearts lead lasted only a minute as Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas turned Danny Galbraith’s cross into his own net. The arrival of substitute John Sutton tipped the game in Hearts’ favour. First the former Motherwell striker set up Andy Webster for a low driven finish then he used his strength to set up fellow substitute Rudi Skacel for a left-foot finish to make it 3-1 and move Hearts up to fourth in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Dundee United 1 Aberdeen 2

Aberdeen recorded their second win over of the season over United thanks to a wonder Kari Arnason strike. The home side went in front when Jon Daly rolled the ball home in a goalmouth scramble. Aberdeen responded when Arnason’s throw in was helped on by substitute Rory McArdle and fellow sub Mohamed Chalali scored with his first touch of the ball to head past Dusan Pernis. United brought on new signing Richie Ryan but his first appearance was overshadowed by Arnason’s strike, the Icelandic midfielder finding the net from 30 yards.

Dunfermline Athletic 0 Celtic 3

post4aCeltic solidified their position at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a comprehensive win at East End Park. Celtic went ahead when Georgios Samaras’ misdirected header fell for Anthony Stokes, who beat Chris Smith with a clever chip. Celtic increased their lead just before the break when Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick was side-footed home by Victor Wanyama. Mulgrew lashed in the third from a second-half free-kick and Celtic could have added to their tally as they closed out the victory well on top. The Pars remain bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and haven’t beaten Celtic at home in the last thirty-one meetings.

Kilmarnock 2 St Mirren 1

Kilmarnock moved up to seventh in the table thanks to a stunning last-minute Danny Racchi winner. Lee Mair headed Saints into the lead when he beat Cammy Bell from Graham Carey’s corner. The home side levelled when Paul Heffernan found space in the box to fire home. The game seemed set to end in a draw until Racchi made room to lob a classy winner over Craig Samson.

Rangers 3 Motherwell 0

Rangers won at a cost – already without groin injury victim Nikica Jelavic, they lost Kyle Lafferty for a month with a hamstring injury. Lafferty went off after eight minutes with John Fleck replacing him. David Healy put Rangers in front when he took Maurice Edu’s pass and beat Darren Randolph from a tight angle. Rangers increased their lead when Steve Davis and Healy combined to set up Sone Aluko for a crisp finish in a well worked goal. Lee Wallace’s cross was then turned into his own net by Motherwell skipper Stephen Craigan to complete the scoring for the home side.