As the international break begins, it is time to take stock before the football season enters the home straight.
In the Scottish Premiership, even the dogs on the street know that Celtic will be six-time champions in the not too distant future while Aberdeen have a tight grip on second spot and Rangers, almost equally so, on third place it seems.
At the other end of the table, things are much less cut and dried. Having seemed destined for trouble at Christmas time, Partick Thistle have shot up the table and have more or less secured safety with a run of just two defeats in ten games. The Jags are ten points clear of danger and will be confident of survival now.
Going the other way are Motherwell. The Fir Park outfit have dispensed with Mark McGhee amid a torrid run of form and are now trading at just 4/1 to finish bottom of the Premiership pile.
The Steelmen have lost six of their last seven games since February began. Most worryingly, they have been leaking goals – three at home to Hearts, seven up in Aberdeen and five more when Dundee came calling.
They are now comfortably the most porous defence in the top flight, with new manager Stephen Robinson experiencing defeat at home to St Johnstone in his first game since taking control full time.
With four games to go before the split, Motherwell have a massive opportunity to turn their season around with home ties against Hamilton and Inverness – the two teams below them currently. Lose those games – and they’ve managed just one point from the last 21 at Fir Park since November – and Motherwell could be favourites to finish last.
Their own feeble form aside, Motherwell must also be concerned that Hamilton and Inverness are showing some signs of fight too. Accies recently picked up a priceless, if somewhat fortuitous, 1-0 win over Aberdeen that keeps them in a position to survive.
Caley Thistle meanwhile, bottom of the pile for so long, have been beaten only once in six league games and that was against runaway leaders Celtic.
Hamilton are currently 21/20 to finish bottom of the table. Recent form is a major worry for boss Martin Canning after suffering consecutive 4-0 defeats to Hearts and Rangers, but during the international break Hamilton will be working intently ahead of a home game against St Johnstone that precedes what already appears as a make or break trip to Motherwell. If they win that game, they will have big hopes of condemning the Fir Park outfit to bottom spot.
Inverness looked doomed for a long time but six points from five games recently – when they’ve faced Hearts, Rangers and Celtic – was an excellent return and Richie Foran’s assessment that they are hitting form at the right time looks fair.
The Highlanders are now 14/5 to prop up the rest but their burst of form suggests they could be close to turning that particular race into a dogfight between Hamilton and Motherwell.
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