Sky Sports Scottish Football podcast: '2020/21 Scottish Premiership a season like no other'

Sky Sports is only broadcaster to offer live coverage of Scottish Premiership, with up to 48 games; Ally McCoist, Darren Fletcher, John Hartson new pundits

The 2020/21 Scottish Premiership campaign will be a season like no other, according to the new Sky Sports Scottish Football podcast.

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Ahead of the new season, which will be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports, Andy Walker and Kris Boyd joined Ian Crocker for a special preview on our new podcast.

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The campaign begins with Rangers' trip to Aberdeen and Walker declared: "The chat about 10 in a row or whether Rangers can stop it, will be constant. It will be every week.

"There will be a huge reaction to any defeat and to any draw, and that's why I think there's some added pressure on Rangers on the first weekend of the season.

"To go to Aberdeen and win, it can set the tone for the season because it's such a difficult venue. If they can go there and get all three points it puts them on a good footing."

Saturday's trip to Pittodrie could be pivotal to how Rangers perform this season, according to Boyd.

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"A lot of people will turn around and say: 'What does Steven Gerrard have to do?' Well, start the season in the exact same way they started last season," he said.

"When you look back at last season, the gap was 13 points when the season was brought to a halt. With the same players and the same management staff, that's very difficult to turn around because you are set in your ways."

Meanwhile, Walker thinks the champions, who begin their title defence with a clash against Hamilton at Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon, live on Sky Sports, will be hugely motivated by the chance to make history this campaign.

"The players, the manager and the coaching staff will relish the opportunity of writing their names in history," he said. "Of course, there's a bit of pressure, there's pressure very week, but in the last few seasons they've shown they can handle it.

"Although this will be totally different with no fans, but there's a level of professionalism there that will see Celtic, especially when you look at their early fixtures, get off to a good start."

As well as last season's top two, and the futures of their star men Odsonne Edouard and Alfredo Morelos, the Sky Sports pundits also discuss the other 10 Scottish Premiership teams' outlooks heading into the new campaign.

Motherwell surprised many by finishing third in the previous campaign, but Walker has backed Stephen Robinson's team "to be good again and I can see them challenging in the upper half of the top six again."

What of last season's fourth-placed side Aberdeen, though, who kick things off on Saturday lunch time by hosting Rangers live on Sky Sports Football?

"If Aberdeen are going to continue to challenge for that third and fourth spot, then you are going to have to keep hold of your players," said Boyd.

"On the whole, I think Aberdeen have got a decent squad. The one I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of this year is the striker Bruce Anderson. He has shown in glimpses that he can finish and if he gets in and around about it, he one I think can take chances, especially with the signing of Jonny Hayes down the left."

If there is going to be a surprise package this season, then Boyd thinks it may well be Livingston again after their fifth-place finish last time out.

"Do not rule Livingston out for pushing on and being in the battle for that top six because their home form is unbelievable and I think last year, only Rangers and Celtic had better home form," said the former Scotland international.

Elsewhere, Boyd has backed St Johnstone "to kick on again" under new manager Callum Davidson.

"I think St Johnstone will be OK, I really do. It's a well-run club, everything behind the scenes, even through the pandemic, they seem to be one of the clubs that haven't really said much, they seem to be OK," he added.

The Scottish Premiership final standings, calculated by points per game in league matches played to March 13
Image: The Scottish Premiership final standings, calculated by points per game in league matches played to March 13

As for Hibs, the Edinburgh side will be targeting a return to the top six and possibly a place in Europe after only managing a seventh-place finish last season, according to Walker.

"I think Jack Ross will be looking to finish in the top six this season and he will be trying to push for a European place," he said. "I think that's what should be expected of Hibs. For too long, they have under achieved and it's a big season for everyone in Edinburgh."

Kilmarnock's "major issue is scoring goals," according to Boyd. "They scored 31 goals in 30 league games last year and that's a problem. It's something that Alex Dyer is going to have to address. If they can do that, I'm sure they can find themselves challenging for that top six again."

Walker believes "St Mirren have got to try and get off to a good start, they're at home to Livingston at the weekend and if they get all three points there, it puts them on a solid footing.

Rangers Manager Steven Gerrard is seen during the pre season friendly match between Rangers and Coventry City at Ibrox Stadium on July 25, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. 1:01
Ian Crocker says it's important for Rangers to make a 'statement of intent' against Aberdeen in the opening fixture of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday

"I don't think anyone expects them to be in the top six, unless you're Tony Fitzpatrick, but I think they can beat the likes of Livingston, Kilmarnock, Ross County and clubs like that."

But what about Ross County and Hamilton, who both struggled to 10th and 11th respectively in the table last season?

"Ross County are going to have to improve on last season because I thought a lot of their games last year weren't great and if they want to get away from that relegation battle, they're going to have to improve a lot," said Boyd.

"Hamilton are capable of some big results, but I think they're up against it at the weekend being away to Celtic," Walker said. "They won't expect anything there, but the last thing they'll want to do is lose heavily.

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"This might be the year that Hamilton really struggle to get away from the bottom two."

However, the pair do not agree on how Dundee United will fare this campaign, with Walker believing the newly promoted team "could surprise more than a few this season and be quite comfortable", whereas Boyd thinks "it could be too big a step up from the Championship, unless they get a few players in."

Whatever happens over the course of the next nine months, though, Walker is sure of one thing: "It's going to be a season like no other".

So make sure you all subscribe to and download the new weekly Sky Sports Scottish Football podcast to catch all the latest news and talking points as our trio bring you the best analysis, while covering the big topics from that week, as well as answering questions from the listeners.

Celtic fixtures | Rangers fixtures | Motherwell fixtures | Aberdeen fixtures | Livingston fixtures | St Johnstone fixtures | Hibs fixtures | Kilmarnock fixtures | St Mirren fixtures | Ross County fixtures | Hamilton fixtures | Dundee United fixtures

Confirmed Scottish Premiership games live on Sky Sports

Sat Aug 1: Aberdeen vs Rangers - 12.30pm

Sun Aug 2: Celtic vs Hamilton - 4.30pm

Mon Aug 3: Ross County vs Motherwell - 7.45pm

Sat Aug 8: St Johnstone vs Aberdeen - 12.30pm

Sun Aug 9: Kilmarnock vs Celtic - 4.30pm

Tue Aug 11: Dundee Utd vs Hibernian - 6pm

Wed Aug 12: St Mirren vs Celtic - 6pm

Sat Aug 15: Hibernian vs Motherwell - 5.30pm

Sun Aug 16: Livingston vs Rangers - 4.30pm

Sat Aug 22: Dundee Utd vs Celtic - 5.30pm

Sun Aug 23: St Johnstone vs Hibernian - 4.30pm

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