Scottish Premiership things to watch this weekend

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Prem things

After more nail-biting glory for the national team, domestic football returns with a rare full card of Scottish Premiership matches on Saturday.

There's an enticing top-of-the-table showdown at Ibrox, Motherwell aim to beat Celtic for the first time in 18 attempts and the trial of a later kick-off in Dundee.

Who will emerge rested and rampant from the international break?

Here are a few things to look out for this weekend.

High-flying Hearts head for Govan

Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon has been in fine form for the only unbeaten side in the league
Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon has been in fine form for the only unbeaten side in the league

Robbie Neilson's men have made a blistering start to the season, unbeaten in the first batch of eight league fixtures and just a point behind leaders Rangers.

They have matched the champions' haul of 14 goals scored, and actually conceded one fewer, with only five finding their way past totemic Craig Gordon.

Have Hearts got the personnel and prowess to split the Glasgow titans, or even mount a title challenge of their own?

This trip to Ibrox might give us a clue.

Even while flailing en route to eventual relegation, Hearts developed a knack of scalping Rangers. Their two most recent meetings, in early 2020, ended in triumphs for the Gorgie men.

But their record in Glasgow is far grimmer. Across their past three visits to Ibrox, Hearts have conceded 11 goals without reply. Ouch. And their last win? Seven years ago, when both sides were in the Championship. There has been just one win one from their last 25 Scottish top-flight league games at Ibrox (D5 L19).

Steven Gerrard's troops have not recaptured their irrepressible form of last term, and were second-best to Hibernian before Ryan Porteous' red card.

This is a huge game for both teams.

Celtic need to be wary of old boy Watt

Celtic's record on the road makes for painful reading. Their 2-1 victory at Pittodrie last time out was their first away league win in four attempts.

Hearts, Rangers and Livingston have all conquered Ange Postecoglou's men away from Celtic Park as defensive frailties were exposed again and again.

And after their compelling start to the season, Motherwell ought to fancy their chances of further denting Celtic's campaign.

Graham Alexander's side sit fourth on 14 points as they bid to end a barren winless run against Saturday's opposition stretching back six years.

The form and apparent contentment of Tony Watt adds a different dynamic to proceedings.

The striker has now played more games for Motherwell than any of his previous 11 clubs during a nomadic career.

Having famously scored the goal that scalped Barcelona as a Celtic youngster, and netted four in the league this term, might Watt have trouble in store for his former side?

Can Hibs conquer fear of crosses and return to winning ways?

Hibernian are looking to bounce back from their first domestic loss of the season, having surrendered an early lead at Ibrox last time out.

The hosts are looking to extend their unbeaten run against Dundee United to 10 games in all competitions and enjoyed a recent 3-1 success at Tannadice to reach the last four in the League Cup.

Since that defeat, United have drawn at Celtic Park and seen off Ross County to move within a point of the Easter Road men, who occupy third place.

The big difference is at the top end of the pitch, where Hibs have 14 goals so far, while Thomas Courts' side have managed a measly five from their eight league outings.

Both of Rangers' goals against Hibs came from headers and defending crosses has been an issue for Jack Ross' team, with six of the eight conceded in the Premiership coming from that aerial route.

The Edinburgh club will be missing defender Ryan Porteous after his first-half red card against Rangers, so United may well fancy knocking in a few high balls for new arrival Maxime Biamou.

Late show for Dundee and Aberdeen

Is Jason Cummings the man to end Dundee's wait for a league win this season?
Can Jason Cummings help deliver Dundee's first league win over Aberdeen since December 2004?

Dundee and Aberdeen hope their 18:00 BST kick-off will attract more international eyeballs.

Both teams have strong links to the United States, with Dundee owned by two Americans, and Dave Cormack, the Aberdeen chairman, based on the other side of the pond.

This is an intriguing quest for innovation, but far more pressing to both sides are their respective quests for points.

Newly-promoted Dundee have shown promise in fits and starts, but their league record is wretched: no wins at all and one goal in their last five fixtures.

The ideal time, perhaps, to be hosting Aberdeen, who have proven rather generous defensively of late.

The visitors have coughed up soft goals on a sore nine-game winless streak in all competitions as pressure mounts on Stephen Glass.

In fact, in that period, they've shipped 16 and scored only seven.

However, the Dons have won each of their last six visits to Dens Park and are on a whopping 21-match unbeaten run in this league fixture.

Here's hoping the later kick-off and desired overseas attention can lead to a more high-scoring affair than the form book suggests.

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