It sounds nonsensical to label any game in the third round of a 33-round competition as a relegation six-pointer but the Scottish Premiership clash between Partick and Heart of Midlothian is a massive match for both top-flight teams.
Partick is the new kid on the Scottish Premiership block so it was inevitable that bookmakers would fancy it to be among the relegation favourites. Heart of Midlothian has won the Scottish title four times but Hearts, penalised 15 points after entering administration two months ago, face a huge struggle to remain proud members of the 12-side elite.
Heart of Midlothian registered its first win of the Scottish Premiership season last weekend when it beat Edinburgh rival Hibernian 1-0 in the first capital derby of the term. To say that the game was low grade would be a compliment. Neither Heart of Midlothian nor Hibernian played with any fluency and the match will live in the memory for the celebrations among Hearts fans that Callum Paterson’s 72nd-minute goal sparked and the injury that Hearts star Ryan Stevenson sustained in the first half. Stevenson is one of Heart of Midlothian’s few senior players – some would say that he is his team’s leader – and he is out for an estimated eight weeks because of his right knee’s ligament damage.
Partick upset the odds by beating Ross County away from home last weekend but, according to most accounts, the Jags were good value for their victory over a Staggies side that did not lose on its own patch to Celtic last term. Partick was three goals to the good through Kris Doolan and a Steven Lawless brace before Ross County netted a consolation and, based on clear-cut chance, the Jags were unlucky not to win by an even more emphatic margin. Partick had 54 per cent of possession and 10 shots on target compared to Ross County’s three. Partick boss Alan Archibald was smiling from ear to ear at full time and Ross County manager Derek Adams was generous in his praise of the newly promoted Jags.
A Scottish Premiership rule worth following this season is having a bet on any home team at odds against when Heart of Midlothian comes to town. That Heart of Midlothian toiled to find the back of the net against a Hibernian side that had leaked an embarrassing seven goals at home to Swedish team Malmo two weeks ago says a lot about its lack of offence. Partick may only need to score once to accrue maximum points from its home game versus a Heart of Midlothian side that will miss Stevenson’s ability and leadership greatly.
Bookmakers are offering generous odds of around 2.30 that Partick beats Heart of Midlothian and climbs to the top of the Scottish Premiership ladder, perhaps not temporarily because Aberdeen and Inverness entertain Celtic and Motherwell respectively in later weekend matches.
Neither the English Championship game between Doncaster and Blackburn nor the French Ligue Un match between Sochaux and Olympique Lyonnais appeals all that much. If one was forced to advise another play it would be to back Olympique Lyonnais at odds of around 2.20 to defeat Sochaux.
Olympique Lyonnais has been up and running for longer than Sochaux having had to take part in UEFA Champions League preliminaries. Olympique Lyonnais beat Grasshopper 1-0 at home and away to reach the next phase of the tournament in which they will face Real Sociedad. Olympique Lyonnais had an excellent pre-season campaign and it thrashed Nice 4-0 in the opening French Ligue Un round to assume first place.
Sochaux came from behind to draw 1-1 at Evian in its first assignment but that result and the outcomes of its various warm-up games do not make pleasant reading. Sochaux suffered several pre-season shockers, including a 0-4 loss to French Ligue Deux team Dijon. It has been a while since Sochaux won and Olympique Lyonnais lost so, if one wants to have a bet with Partick, Olympique Lyonnais is the best option.
There are too many question marks hanging over Doncaster and Blackburn to get involved in the English Championship match. One suspects that Blackburn is the most likely winner but Rovers do not appeal as a betting proposition on the road.
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