Forward of the return of the Scottish Premiership, Sky Sports activities assesses who has earned high marks up to now, who must do extra and who’ve been the star males?
Jim Goodwin’s aspect have made a fairly robust begin to the season after the previous St Mirren boss spent the summer time fine-tuning his squad. Lewis Ferguson’s transfer to Bologna meant the lack of Aberdeen’s predominant man nevertheless it did liberate some money to fund Goodwin’s summer time switch window.
Bojan Miovski has already hit 11 Premiership objectives, Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes has impressed and mortgage signing Liam Scales has been pivotal within the Dons defence. A 1-0 win over Dundee United on November 12 ensured Aberdeen went into the World Cup break in third spot whereas additionally having a League Cup semi-final towards Rangers to look ahead to. To date, so good.
What do they want? Consistency is essential for Goodwin’s aspect. Robust wins have generally been adopted by disappointing defeats, with Aberdeen solely successful two video games in a row on two events.
Star man: Bojan Miovski
It has been a near-perfect defence of the Scottish Premiership title for Ange Postecoglou’s aspect up to now this season. Thumping wins over Kilmarnock and Hibernian, in addition to a 9-0 victory over Dundee United, have seen Celtic decide up from the place they left off final time period, ruthlessly dispatching sides with Kyogo Furuhashi once more among the many objectives.
A 4-0 win over Rangers in September has additionally helped them to open up a nine-point lead over their Outdated Agency rivals. A shock defeat to St Mirren is the one blotch on their Premiership copybook up to now, though the appointment of Michael Beale at Ibrox presents Postecoglou with a brand new problem.
What do they want? Whereas most outcomes have been complete, in case you are being choosy you might level to Celtic needing late objectives to win video games on a couple of events. It’s tough to see Postecoglou permitting his aspect’s depth to drop however making certain complacency doesn’t creep in will probably be key.
Star man: Jota
Dundee United 2/10
It has been a tough marketing campaign up to now for the Tannadice aspect who completed fourth final time period. What promised to be such an thrilling season with a brand new supervisor in Jack Ross and a terrific 1-0 dwelling leg win over AZ Alkmaar in Europa Convention League qualifying rapidly become a nightmare following that away leg.
A 7-0 loss within the Netherlands was rapidly adopted by heavy defeats to Hearts, St Mirren after which that 9-0 hammering at dwelling to Celtic. All the arrogance had been drained from the aspect and Ross was sacked shortly after that defeat to Ange Postecoglou’s group.
United stay backside of the desk however Liam Fox has steadied the ship – working each Celtic and Rangers shut in Glasgow.
What do they want? Unsurprisingly United have the worst defensive file within the league – they should tighten up on the again and switch slim defeats into attracts a minimum of if they’re to claw their approach up the desk. Scoring twice at Parkhead after which 4 towards Kilmarnock the next week reveals there are objectives within the aspect.
Star man: Dylan Levitt
Coronary heart of Midlothian 6/10
It has been a blended bag for Robbie Neilson’s aspect up to now this season – presumably all the way down to participation within the group phases of the Europa Convention League. There was an actual sense of a possibility missed when Hearts misplaced to FC Zurich in Europa League qualifying however journeys to face the likes of Fiorentina within the Convention ought to stand the gamers in good stead whereas offering a welcome money increase for the membership.
An early exit within the League Cup was additionally a supply of frustration for Neilson however league type has been regular sufficient – particularly given their European exploits and a sizeable damage record. The Jambos boss will probably be decided to safe European soccer once more subsequent season and Hearts want to start out rapidly after the break to make sure they’re preserving tempo with Aberdeen in third.
What do they want? For accidents to ease. Hearts took on an additional workload with European obligation and will ill-afford the accidents they suffered. The return of Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles and Cammy Devlin, buoyed from what has in the end been a profitable World Cup with Australia, also needs to assist.
Star man: Lawrence Shankland
After a blended begin to the season Lee Johnson’s aspect put collectively a four-game successful run in late September to kickstart their marketing campaign – solely to then lose 1-0 to backside aspect Dundee United. It summed up a stop-start run for Hibernian who’ve missed Kevin Nisbet and can now should do with out Martin Boyle for the remainder of the season after he picked up a knee damage in October which additionally compelled him out of the Australia squad for the World Cup.
Hibs sit eighth within the Premiership desk however simply 5 factors behind Aberdeen, albeit having performed a recreation extra. Johnson, and the Easter Highway supporters, could have been hoping for extra given participant turnover in the summertime however most of these additions had been younger gamers who would wish time to adapt. The likes of Nohan Kenneh and Marijan Cabraja have proven that there’s loads to work with if Johnson can get the squad settled for the re-start.
What do they want? Now that it has been confirmed that Ryan Porteous is not going to be signing a brand new deal it could be finest for participant and membership if Johnson can facilitate a January transfer to liberate some funds and guarantee readability on the again. In additional constructive information, Nisbet says he’s focusing on a return towards Rangers on December 15, reside on Sky Sports activities, after greater than 9 months out on account of damage.
Star man: Martin Boyle
Kilmarnock have discovered it powerful upon their return to the highest flight after a quick stint within the Championship. Not that supervisor Derek McInnes would have anticipated something totally different after a summer time spent securing plenty of mortgage offers and free transfers as a part of the transition again to the Premiership.
Killie should not anticipated to succeed in the heights of European qualification achieved in Steve Clarke’s time on the membership however a 1-0 win over Hibernian within the ultimate recreation earlier than the World Cup break lifted McInnes’s aspect off the underside of the desk and could have helped to ease a couple of fears after a three-game shedding run that included a 4-0 hammering by Dundee United.
They’re within the relegation play-off place however solely six factors off of the highest six. In a congested division, a win or two will make all of the distinction however Kilmarnock want to search out objectives from someplace rapidly.
What do they want? Kyle Lafferty’s return from a 10-game ban for sectarian language will probably be vital for Kilmarnock. McInnes’s aspect have scored 12 objectives in 16 matches and desperately want extra firepower up entrance if they’re to climb the desk and keep away from sliding additional right into a relegation struggle because the season goes on.
Star man: Daniel Armstrong
David Martindale continues to work minor miracles in West Lothian. He was named the Scottish Premiership supervisor of the month for November, and with good trigger after his aspect remained unbeaten all through the month. He was minutes away from guiding his aspect to a well-known win at Ibrox in October as nicely.
Livingston sit fourth within the Premiership, nicely positioned for a tilt at one other top-six end and, whisper it, presumably even a shot at Europe. The Lions are tough to beat and, whereas they do not rating many, solely Rangers and Celtic have higher defensive data.
What do they want? Jon Nouble has been the scourge of Rangers up to now this season with two objectives in two video games towards the Ibrox aspect however the striker has solely scored yet another within the league away from that. Sean Kelly and Cristian Montano have chipped in with important strikes as nicely however Livi want extra objectives in the event that they wish to make sure that of a top-six place on the very least.
Star man: Sean Kelly
Not many golf equipment take the choice to sack their supervisor on the eve of the league season however that’s precisely what Motherwell did in July. Graham Alexander left the membership after their Europa Convention League exit by the hands of Sligo Rovers in qualifying following a poor run of leads to the second half of final season.
It might have been the beginning of a difficult marketing campaign at Fir Park however Steven Hammell led Motherwell to 3 wins from their opening 4 league video games to regular the ship. Slender defeats to the Outdated Agency have proven Motherwell’s preventing capabilities however they’ve solely received as soon as since October 4 and want to start out choosing up extra factors towards the groups round them.
What do they want? Extra objectives, particularly at Fir Park. Kevin van Veen has hit seven objectives in 16 appearances up to now this season, practically half of Motherwell’s whole tally to this point. They can even have to enhance on their solitary win at dwelling going right into a crunch interval over the winter.
Star man: Kevin van Veen
Expectations had been excessive over the summer time after Giovanni van Bronckhorst led his Rangers group to inside a kick of European glory and a Scottish Cup triumph on the tail finish of final season however this league marketing campaign has already come off the tracks.
The Dutchman has been changed by Michael Beale after falling 9 factors behind Celtic on the high of the desk with Rangers choosing up simply eight factors from 5 league video games since October 16. Followers had been booing the group off the pitch, even after wins, such was their disappointment within the performances. Beale will probably be anticipated to re-invigorate a jaded squad and win silverware someplace – even when wrestling again the Premiership title now appears to be like like a monumental problem.
What do they want? Rangers regarded just like the fittest group in Scotland by a ways final season however they seem nicely off the tempo this time round. Beale must get Alfredo Morelos on top of things and discover a approach to convey out the very best in Ryan Kent if they’re to have any probability of chasing down a relentless Celtic aspect. Nonetheless, with each gamers out of contract in the summertime, the membership could have a choice to soak up January on their futures.
Star man: Antonio Colak
Ross County 6/10
It was at all times going to be nigh on not possible for Malky Mackay to enhance upon Ross County’s high six end final season. The re-emergence of Aberdeen and the continued good work of David Martindale at Livingston meant it was at all times going to be tough for the Staggies to problem above midtable once more.
One win from their opening 9 Premiership matches noticed County flirt with the relegation locations however a way more constructive November, which included back-to-back wins and a slim loss at Parkhead, meant they went into the World Cup get away of the underside two and with some momentum to construct on.
A win towards an in-form St Johnstone after the break might assist Mackay’s aspect to construct on these outcomes going into the winter interval.
What do they want? Each aspect on the backside of the desk wants objectives and Ross County are not any totally different. The lack of Regan Charles-Prepare dinner, who scored 13 objectives final season, in the summertime could have been keenly felt. Jordan White and Owura Edwards solely have 5 between them up to now this season and County want extra.
Star man: Owura Edwards
St. Johnstone 7/10
After showing to undergo a cup double hangover final season Callum Davidson seemingly has St Johnstone again on monitor. In need of successful the division final time period nothing was going to high their League Cup and Scottish Cup success from 2020-21 and it took a relegation play-off win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle to protect their top-flight standing.
Now, they’re again within the high six, contemporary from beating Rangers within the league for the primary time since 2017, and went 5 unbeaten going into the break. A stoppage-time aim denied them some extent towards Celtic in October however they actually seem tough to beat once more – one thing that was missing final season.
What do they want? Davidson has discovered a partnership that works up entrance in Stevie Might and Nicky Clark, with the pair bagging eight objectives between them and the previous chipping in with 4 assists as nicely. If Davidson can hold the duo match and firing then St Johnstone will probably be within the combine for a top-six end once more.
Star man: Stevie Might
St. Mirren 7/10
Stephen Robinson endured a tough return to the Scottish Premiership when he took over at St Mirren in February final yr, shedding seven of his first eight matches earlier than in the end guiding the membership to security.
This season has been totally different. St Mirren are at present 4 factors off of a European spot and had been a penalty away from beating each of the Outdated Agency within the league for the primary time since 1989/90.
Mark O’Hara and Jonah Ayunga have scored some vital objectives, whereas Keanu Baccus ought to return in nice spirits from Australia’s World Cup marketing campaign.
What do they want? The Buddies have turned St Mirren Park right into a little bit of a fortress this season with 5 wins and three attracts from 9 video games there. Celtic got here unstuck in Paisley whereas Rangers wanted a late penalty to salvage some extent however their away type tells a unique story. 5 defeats from six on the street has hampered Robinson’s aspect and they’ll look to deal with that after the break.
Star man: Jonah Ayunga