Crocker & Walker's Scottish Premiership Predictions
By Sky Sports Scotland
Last Updated: 18/10/18 1:04pm
Ian Crocker and Andy Walker give their predictions for the six fixtures in the Scottish Premiership this weekend.
Celtic v Hibernian - Saturday 3pm
Referee: Don Robertson
Eight games in and it is third against second in the Scottish Premiership with Brendan Rodgers' side trailing Hibs by a single point going into Saturday's encounter. Celtic scored seven goals without reply in their last two league games against Aberdeen (1-0) and St Johnstone (0-6) but come up against the top scoring team in the Premiership; a side they only managed to beat twice out of five attempts in all competitions last season.
Neil Lennon's Hibs are the form team of the Premiership after four straight victories. In those four games they have scored 13 and conceded just twice with clean sheets in each of their last three. The Easter Road side have had nine different scorers in the opening eight matches of the league season (10 if you include own goals) with Stephen Mallan currently joint-second top scorer in the league with four goals.
Prediction: Celtic 2-1 Hibernian
Leigh Griffiths: Rested and focused and maybe destined to have a say against the team of his dreams.
Efe Ambrose: A smile is never far from his face and he must relish a return to Celtic Park.
Prediction: Celtic 3-1 Hibernian
Youssouf Mulumbu Has the quality to stifle an impressive Hibs midfield.
Emerson Hyndman: Another loan spell in Scotland, this time with Hibs, he has settled in quickly.
Celtic are unbeaten in their last nine league meetings with Hibernian at Celtic Park (W6 D3) since a 2-1 loss in January 2010.
After beating Celtic 2-1 in April, Hibs could win back-to-back league meetings with the Hoops for the first time since September 2007.
After winning both of their last two league games, Celtic are looking to win three consecutive Scottish Premiership matches for only the second time in 2018, and the first since January - a run which included a 1-0 win at home to Hibs.
Hibernian have won four consecutive league games; they haven't won five in a row in the top-flight since March 2011.
Celtic's James Forrest netted more goals in their 6-0 win over St. Johnstone last time out (four) than he had in his previous 28 Scottish Premiership appearances combined (three).
Hearts v Aberdeen - Saturday 3pm
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Despite Hearts' 3-1 defeat at Ibrox before the international break, they still sit two points clear of Hibs at the top of the table. Steven Naismith continued his scoring form for Scotland with a late consolation in the 3-1 defeat to Portugal, meaning he has 11 goals in all competitions for club and country so far this campaign. His tally has helped Craig Levein's side return 10 more points than at this stage last term, scoring double the amount of goals (14). But the Edinburgh club have been dealt a blow with the loss of John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu for five months with hip and foot injuries.
Aberdeen have made strong starts in recent seasons but have found themselves outside of the top-six of the Premiership table since August. In the five games since then, Derek McInnes side have won two, lost two and drawn one - leaving them with twelve points from their opening eight matches, two points behind Rangers in 6th. At this stage last year Aberdeen were unbeaten and joint top with Celtic on 20 points - but they have conceded one more goal at this point in 2018/19 and have scored six less. Sam Cosgrove's double against St Mirren took the striker to the top of the club's Premiership scoring chart with two goals.
Prediction: Hearts 2-2 Aberdeen
Arnaud Djoum: Getting back up to speed after long-term injury and capable of taking charge.
Graeme Shinnie: Thought he might have started for Scotland against Portugal.
Prediction: Hearts 1-1 Aberdeen
Steven Naismith: Such an important player for Hearts - and Scotland too!
Sam Cosgrove: A relief to be off the mark after scoring twice against St Mirren before the international break, I fancy him to keep it up.
Hearts have won just one of their last eight league games against Aberdeen (D3 L4), a 2-0 victory in April last season.
Aberdeen have won just three of their last 12 trips to Hearts in the top-flight (D2 L7), failing to score in six of those games.
Hearts have lost just one of their last 18 home league games (W10 D7), winning four of their last five (D1).
Aberdeen's current run of three away league games without a win (D2 L1) is their poorest such streak since August 2016 (six games).
Aberdeen's Stevie May has scored five goals in his six Scottish Premiership starts against Hearts; against no other club has he netted more in the division (level with Dundee).
Livingston v Dundee - Saturday 3pm
Referee: Nick Walsh
This is the first meeting of these two sides in top-flight league competition since May 2005 when the game ended 1-1 with Craig Easton and Calum MacDonald on the scoresheet respectfully. Livingston have had a fantastic start to the season and sit comfortably in the top half of the table with fifteen points from eight games and remain unbeaten in the Premiership under Gary Holt (WWWDWD). Livingston have the second best defensive record in the league behind Celtic, having conceded just five times but are yet to see one of their players score more than a single league goal in 2018/19.
A new era begins at Dundee after Jim McIntyre was brought swiftly in to replace Neil McCann, who was relieved of his managerial duties by the club on Tuesday. McIntyre has inherited a side bottom of the table with one win and seven defeats this campaign. However they could drag themselves out of the relegation spots with a victory at the weekend if St Mirren fail to win and Motherwell lose. They have scored three times in their last two matches but managed just two goals from their previous six in the league.
Prediction: Livingston 1-1 Dundee
Keaghan Jacobs: Knows Livingston inside out and that free-kick at Motherwell was just fabulous.
Kenny Miller: Back at Livingston where he lasted 5 minutes or so. He couldn't. Could he?
Prediction: Livingston 1-0 Dundee
Dolly Menga: What a handful for any defence to cope with his energy, strength & running power.
Cammy Kerr: How will the impressive Kerr & his teammates react now that Neil McCann has been sacked?
Although this will be the first top-flight meeting between Livingston and Dundee since May 2005, the Lions are unbeaten in four such games against the Dee (W2 D2).
Dundee have never won away at Livingston in the Scottish Premiership (P5 W0 D3 L2), conceding exactly one goal in all five visits.
Livingston have won each of their last three home league games, their best run in the top tier of Scottish football since August 2002 (also three). They have never won four on the bounce at home in the Scottish Premiership.
Dundee have lost eight of their last nine league games, winning the other 2-0 against Hamilton in September.
Livingston and Dundee are the only two sides who are yet to see a player score more than once in this season's Scottish Premiership, with Dundee having five players on one goal whilst Livingston have eight.
Motherwell v St Johnstone - Saturday 3pm
Referee: Bobby Madden
Both of these teams are without a league win in any of their last four matches and now sit in the bottom half of the table. Motherwell stopped their run of three straight defeats with a draw against Livingston before the international break. Stephen Robinson's side have conceded 14 goals in their opening eight matches and have yet to keep a clean sheet this Premiership season. Danny Johnson is the club's Premiership top scorer as the only player to score more than once in 2018/19.
Tommy Wright's side had a tough run of league fixtures before the international break, losing to Rangers (1-5), Hearts (2-1) and Celtic (0-6) respectively. Those heavy defeats to Rangers and Celtic have given St Johnstone the unwanted tag of having the worst defence of the season so far. They have conceded 18 times in eight games, with their only clean sheet coming against bottom side Dundee in August.
Prediction: Motherwell 1-0 St Johnstone
Curtis Main: Motherwell need a regular supply of goals from their main man.
Ross Callachan: Eager for a run in the side to prove his worth.
Prediction: Motherwell 2-0 St Johnstone
Liam Donnelly: Motherwell need strong characters to get through this difficult period.
Steven Anderson: The only player to get a positive comment from his manager after the humiliating 6-0 home defeat to Celtic.
Motherwell have won just one of their last nine league games against St. Johnstone (D2 L6), a 2-0 victory in February of last season.
St. Johnstone have won four of their last five visits to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership (L1), as many as their previous 14 combined.
Motherwell are one of only two sides yet to win at home in this season's Scottish Premiership (P4 W0 D2 L2) alongside Dundee.
St. Johnstone have lost both of their last two away league games, last losing three in a row in October 2017 (four straight away defeats).
Only against Hibernian (eight goals) has St. Johnstone's Liam Craig scored more goals in his career in the Scottish Premiership than he has against Motherwell (seven). Craig netted a brace in his last league visit to Fir Park in March 2017 in a 2-1 St. Johnstone win.
St Mirren v Kilmarnock - Saturday 3pm
Referee: William Collum
It's been a difficult start to life at St Mirren for Oran Kearney. Following his debut point against Celtic in September, the Buddies have lost all three games since - conceding eight and scorning just once. The club's goal difference is the worse in the division, primarily thanks to a lack of strike power. They have netted just four times in the eight Premiership matches and have conceded an average of over two goals per game so far.
It's almost a year to the day since Steve Clarke came into Kilmarnock and almost immediately turned the club's fortunes around. Killie had just six points from nine matches and sat 11th in the table when Clarke took over in 2017/18. Last year's Scottish Premiership top scorer Kris Boyd is struggling to get a look in the starting line-up just now as the partnership of Eamonn Brophy and Greg Stewart continues to flourish. They have contributed seven goals and two assists between them in the five league games since Stewart joined on-loan from Birmingham.
Prediction: St Mirren 0-2 Kilmarnock
Anton Ferdinand: Stewart and Brophy are proving a considerable handful for many.
Eamonn Brophy: Love the energy and enthusiasm. Every second counts for him.
Prediction: St Mirren 1-2 Kilmarnock
Ryan Flynn: Has to try & exert his authority on games at what is a challenging time for St Mirren.
Stephen O`Donnell: Endured a tough time for Scotland in defeats to both Israel & Portugal.
St. Mirren have only lost once in their last seven home games against Kilmarnock in the Scottish top-flight (W4 D2), a 2-1 reverse in January 2015.
Kilmarnock have won four of their last five Scottish Premiership meetings with St. Mirren (L1), as many as their previous 12 combined.
Since winning their opening league match of the season 2-1 against Dundee, St. Mirren have gone seven league games without a win, losing six of those (D1), the longest ongoing winless streak of all sides in this season's Scottish Premiership.
Kilmarnock have won four of their last five league games (L1), including the last three in succession - they have scored 2+ goals in all five of those matches (11 total).
Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd has scored 11 goals in his last 12 starts against St. Mirren in the Scottish Premiership.
Hamilton v Rangers - Live on Sky Sports Football from 1pm Sunday
Referee: Andrew Dallas
With just one win in their last six matches Hamilton are 9th in the table above Motherwell, St Mirren and Dundee. The only points the club have picked up in 2018/19 have come against two of the three sides that sit below them in the Premiership. Mickel Miller has been their most prolific league scorer with three goals, but the striker has been absent from their last two defeats.
There were a whopping 15 goals and two red cards in just the three encounters between these sides last season, with six first half goals in the last meeting which ended 5-3 to Rangers in February.
Rangers bounced back from their defeat to Livingston at the end of last month with victories in both their Europa League match with Rapid Vienna and at home to league leaders Hearts before the international break. Despite that win against Hearts, Steven Gerrard's side still sit in sixth place in the Premiership, five points off the pace at the top. Rangers are the second highest scorers in the league with 18 goals but they'll be without the option of Kyle Lafferty this weekend after the Irish FA invoked FIFA's five day rule.
Prediction: Hamilton 1-4 Rangers
James Keatings: Back at Accies and might be due a start to give them something different.
Alfredo Morelos: Looks like a man in the mood for goals.
Prediction: Hamilton 0-3 Rangers
Gary Woods: The spotlight cruelly falls on the goalkeeper after shipping 6 goals in woeful team performance at Easter Rd recently.
Ryan Kent: Excellent in the impressive 3-1 victory over Hearts, should get an extended run in the team.
Hamilton have lost 87% of their 15 Scottish Premiership meetings with Rangers (W1 D1 L13) conceding 13 goals in their last four games.
Rangers have won all eight of their visits to Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership by an aggregate score of 19-7.
None of Hamilton's last 18 league games have ended level, with Hamilton winning three and losing 15 of these games since a 2-2 draw with Ross County in March.
Under manager Steven Gerrard, just two of Rangers' 11 wins in all competitions have come away from the Ibrox. Indeed, the Gers are one of only two sides yet to win an away league game in the 2018-19 Scottish Premiership (also St. Mirren).
Rangers have seen more different players score for them in this season's Scottish Premiership (10) than any other side (excluding own goals), whilst only St. Mirren (two) have had fewer different scorers than Hamilton Academical (four).