things to watch

This was meant to be Scottish Cup weekend but the pause of the lower leagues put paid to that, allowing the Premiership to reschedule four matches.

Runaway leaders Rangers are not involved and neither are bottom side Hamilton Academical but there are plenty of other sub-plots to keep us interested following a full card on Wednesday.

Can red-hot Livingston press a claim for third?

With no dramatic weather forecast, it should be a case of third time lucky as Aberdeen visit in-form Livingston. The fixture has been cancelled twice before, firstly because of snow and then torrential rain forced a very late call-off.

The teams meet again at Pittodrie on Tuesday, so there are potentially six huge points up for grabs.

Livingston’s form has been quite extraordinary since David Martindale took over and their unbeaten run was extended to 12 games with a 2-0 home win over Kilmarnock, both goals coming in the closing minutes to illustrate their unwavering spirit.

Since the start of December, only Rangers (31) have earned more points than the Lions (23).

With Aberdeen playing out a mind-numbingly dull stalemate at McDiarmid Park, Livi are now eight points behind Saturday’s visitors.

The Dons have been stuttering, with just two wins from their last seven outings, but they do have a very good recent record in this one, unbeaten in 12 (9W, 3D) against the men from West Lothian.

Can Lennon muster ‘strong finish’ amid clamour?

Both Celtic and St Mirren celebrated their first victories of 2021 on Wednesday evening.

While Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hamilton was routine, not many would have tipped the Buddies to bang in five at Tannadice just a few days after a bruising League Cup semi-final defeat at Hampden.

Watch the Premier League banner
FA Cup footer

It was their biggest top-flight victory since a famous 4-0 win over Celtic in March 2010 that ultimately led to Neil Lennon getting his first taste of management.

The end of Lennon’s second stint at Celtic looks nigh, but he is in no mood to throw in the towel, this week describing widespread speculation on his replacement as “highly disrespectful”.

With Rangers disappearing over the horizon, Lennon remains determined to “finish the season as strong as we can” and it should be noted that St Mirren have not beaten Celtic since that game in Paisley almost 10 years ago, losing 20 and drawing twice.

Can Hibs rediscover cutting edge?

The goals and wins have dried up for Hibs
The goals and wins have dried up for Hibs

Hibs might fancy a go at finishing third too since it’s a position they have occupied a few times already this season, but current form is a worry for Jack Ross’ side.

Sure, they put up a fight against Rangers and can feel aggrieved that the only goal at Easter Road came from Alfredo Morelos, who dodged an early red card, but they didn’t pose any real threat in attack, which has been a feature of late.

A run of just two wins from nine games has yielded a mere five goals, with 12 conceded.

Ross has recruited Jackson Irvine and Chris Cadden to add athleticism to his midfield. But with Joe Newell only just returning from injury, Martin Boyle and Stevie Mallan out of sorts and Scott Allan working his way back from a long absence, there is a worrying dearth of creativity behind the strikers.

They visit a Dundee United side given a shellacking by St Mirren to extend their winless run to six games. Manager Micky Mellon has used the “we are new at this level” line and on Wednesday it certainly looked like it.

He will be hoping Benjamin Siegrist is fit to return since the big keeper played a blinder to earn his team a point at Easter Road last month.

Old timers trio key for Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock have lost seven of their last 10 and do not have their troubles to seek, with Stuart Findlay joining a long list of injury absentees that includes Yousouff Mulumbu, Greg Kiltie, Kirk Broadfoot and Gary Dicker. Two players have also tested positive for Covid-19.

The good news is that Dicker is close to a return, having played only 13 league games in this campaign. The 34-year-old skipper brings experience and steel to the middle of the park, along with his regular partner in graft Alan Power.

If manager Alex Dyer can get those two back together, along with Mulumbu, who has only recently been able to last a whole game after his year-long sabbatical, then it would make the world of difference to a team that is just five points off the bottom.

St Johnstone visit Rugby Park on Saturday and are level on points with the hosts, having followed up a fine League Cup semi-final win over Hibs with a drab point at home to Aberdeen.

That makes the Perth side unbeaten in six (2W, 4D) and they won all three against Killie in 2020.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - Blue
Footer - Blue