Scottish Premiership things to watch this weekend

By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland
Prem things

Following three pulsating games on Saturday, what will the weekend's final three matches bring?

The return of the Dundee derby should help since that fixture tends to be goal-laden, although both teams have been a bit shot-shy so far.

Here are a few of the issues to keep an eye on over Sunday.

Dundee ready for derby day at Tannadice

The Dundee derby returns to the top flight for the first time since May 2016, when Andy Murray had two working hip joints and just one Wimbledon title to his name.

That was a dark day at Dens Park for United as Craig Wighton's stoppage-time winner condemned them to relegation.

Revenge has already been taken with two 2019 victories in the Championship, including a 6-2 thumping, while the points were shared at Tannadice on the last meeting in December that year as United ran away with the title.

United have not lost any of the past 10 derbies on their own patch, a run that stretches back to 2004, when Steve Lovell and John Sutton were on target for Dundee a month before Murray had won the Junior US Open.

The visitors are yet to register a league win this season, drawing three of their five games, and they will be hoping Leigh Griffiths is in the mood and in shape after the on-loan Celtic striker got through his first competitive 90 minutes since March 2020 last weekend.

Dundee may be four points behind their neighbours but they have scored double United's meagre tally of two goals.

Following back-to-back blanks, the hosts could do with summoning the energy and verve shown when they stunned Rangers in early August.

A crackling atmosphere at a sold-out Tannadice should ensure both teams are bang up for this one and the good news is the past 14 derbies have produced a whopping 50 goals.

Dundee United pair Liam Smith and Marc McNulty
Dundee United have scored half the goals Dundee have managed so far but have more than double the points of their city rivals

In-form Motherwell next up at Fortress Ibrox

Rangers aim to make it 49 league games unbeaten against Motherwell after the disappointment of losing their 50th European game under Steven Gerrard.

The manager described Thursday's home defeat to Lyon as a "slightly harsh" but did admit: "I don't think we've hit top gear yet."

The champions may not be at their best right now but they returned to the top of the Premiership last weekend and will be confident of staying there, given how impressive domestic home form has been.

Rangers' current league winning run at Ibrox stands at 21 matches, during which they have scored 61 goals and conceded just four - keeping 17 clean sheets.

Rangers captain James Tavernier has been directly involved in eight goals in his last nine league games against Motherwell (four goals, four assists).
Rangers captain James Tavernier has been directly involved in eight goals in his last nine league games against Motherwell (four goals, four assists).

Motherwell were one of the teams to manage a goal in Govan last season, taking an early lead in December, but the hosts hit back with three of their own in the second half.

That was before Graham Alexander took over and his first experience of facing Rangers ended in a 1-1 draw at Fir Park in January. He goes to Ibrox for the first time on the back of three successive victories.

Just three of the players who started in that most recent game against Rangers were in the XI for last weekend's victory over Aberdeen, but will Alexander's radical overhaul be enough for a first league win away to Rangers since 1997?

Celtic seek first away points at lowly Livingston

Celtic are also looking to bounce back from a Europa League defeat on Sunday as they go to a venue where they have struggled recently.

Livingston, currently bottom of the table, are unbeaten at home to Celtic in the past three seasons (one win, three draws).

However, the West Lothian side are in the midst of a prolonged slump, with one point from their opening five matches in the Premiership and only one league win in their past 17 outings.

David Martindale's side lack punch in the final third and, perhaps more worryingly, appear to have lost the tenacity and work-rate which has been at the core of their punching-above-weight story since returning to the top flight.

This looks like the ideal fixture to rediscover the aggressive attitude that has helped secure back-to-back top six finishes and Livingston will hope to rattle a defence that conceded four goals to Real Betis.

A 2-0 reverse in 2019 is the only time Celtic have lost in their 26 top-flight league meetings with the hosts but Ange Postecoglou's side have taken nothing from their first two away games this season, losing at Tynecastle and Ibrox.

Kenny Dalglish was in charge the last time Celtic lost three in a row on the road back in April 2000.

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