Who do Bettors Favor?
Last month our check of the best sportsbook sites showed that Celtic were closing on the reigning champions, while Hearts were some way back in third. This time, the situation has changed completely. Celtic, now a point ahead in the league, have a clear edge in the outright market, while Hearts are even further back, with some sportsbooks not offering odds on any team other than the front two.
Celtic Turn the Tide
Celtic’s dominance of the Scottish Premiership appeared to come to a definitive end last season as Steven Gerrard led Rangers to their first Premiership win since 2011, stopping Celtic from reaching ten consecutive wins. With Celtic apparently in disarray, it seemed as though Rangers could go on and build a dominant era of their own, but those ideas melted while the snow was still on the ground.
The departure of Rangers manager Steven Gerrard in November had opened the door to the other sides near the top of the table and Celtic have taken full advantage, under manager Ange Postecoglu. They had a poor start, but the club didn’t panic and began to build an unbeaten run that has now reached 20, with only three draws. That has taken Celtic into the lead and heaped pressure on the Rangers.
The turning point, at least psychologically, came at the start of February when Celtic comprehensively outplayed their rivals at Celtic Park for a 3-0 victory. That defeat ended Rangers’ own impressive 21 game unbeaten run and now manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is facing a test of his coaching ability. Having recommended Celtic at odds of 2.25 last month, I can’t pick them at their much shorter odds while Rangers don’t appeal given how completely they were beaten by Celtic.
The Fight for the Top Four
With Celtic and Rangers barely losing a game this season, there has been little prospect of any of the other teams in the division catching them and the race behind the front two is all about which team will make it to the top four and earn a European qualification place.
Hearts have a healthy ten-point lead in third place and that ought to be enough to see them finish in the top four, but the next six teams are separated by only three points.
Dundee United are fourth but have been far from convincing recently, while Motherwell haven’t won a game in the Premiership since Christmas, so at this point, St Mirren look the best bet. In four consecutive wins they’ve beaten four of their top-four rivals and given that the points bar for fourth place will be set historically low this year, they are worth a bet if you can find a Premiership top four market.
Two Way Scrap at the Bottom
At the other end of the table, it seems like St Johnstone and Dundee will go head-to-head to avoid the Championship drop.
St Johnstone seemed to have picked up enough points to remain out of danger in the fall, but their campaign hit the buffers at the end of November, and they suffered an unwelcome run of eight straight losses, dropping to the foot of the league. Dundee have been poorer for longer but are still a point ahead of their rivals through six points short of safety.
Both teams have picked up a few points in recent weeks so this could be an intriguing contest but Dundee are adjusting to a new manager and that could see them slip behind in the short term, so I’m sticking with them as the pick in this market.
Who Will Top Score in the Scottish Premiership?
Odsonne Edouard of Celtic has been the top scorer for the last two seasons, but he is currently at Crystal Palace in the English Premier League, and Kyogo Furuhashi is the major Celtic contender for the top scorer title. The versatile Japanese forward is taking on a regular in this market in Alfredo Morelos of Rangers but has also been overtaken by Liel Abada, his teammate.
Given their team’s dominance in the Premier League, they both look better options than some of the other contenders in this market. A case could be made for Christian Ramirez of Aberdeen, but with the team apparently struggling for form, he won’t have the best platform to challenge in the closing weeks of the season and the same goes for Regan Charles-Cook of Ross County and Tony Watt, who moved from Motherwell to Dundee United earlier in the season.
I picked Furuhashi last month and he’s available at a bigger price now, but it could also be worth including Abada, who has suddenly hit form and can be backed at significantly bigger odds than Morelos.
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