Written by @samjsneddon
After a nice comfortable break at the beginning of the New Year, we saw some fantastic games in the top tier of Scottish football - Rangers came away with an excellent 2-0 win over Aberdeen - completing a 3/3 win record for Graeme Murty-, Celtic got a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle after a penalty decision and a 70th minute goal and Hearts kept it goalless until 67 minutes into the game before two goals at 73' and 87' against Hamilton Accies. Now it's time for the second week of football as the teams try to settle into the normal routine.
Aberdeen vs Kilmarnock (KO: 15:00)
Aberdeen host in-form Kilmarnock today at Pittodrie where both sides surprisingly will be hoping to take the 3 points. This comes as a surprise to long-term Scottish Football fans as Kilmarnock are pretty much relegation dodgers - finishing between 9-11th most seasons since 1993. Now, though, things may be on the change. A very rocky start to the season saw them dead last in the league and manager Lee McCulloch sacked. The appointment of Chelsea number 2, Steve Clarke, has shown well for Killie - 5/11 wins and 4 draws with two 1-1 ties against Rangers and Celtic showing well for the new man.
Aberdeen will be hoping to see a win today after a 0-2 loss to Rangers, a game where the Dons struggled to dominate for a total of 10 minutes.
The last time these two sides met, it resulted in a 1-3 away win for Aberdeen, where goalscorer Jordan Jones saw a sending off.
I think it'll be another win for Aberdeen today - 2-1 home win.
Celtic vs Hibernian (KO: 15:00)
Hibs travel to Glasgow today for another game against title holders, Celtic. These sides have already met 3 times this season, twice in the league. The last time this fixture was played it resulted in a 2-2 draw but I don't think it'll be quite the same.
Celtic are still the dominant force in Scottish football, despite already dropping 15 points and having their unbeaten run snatched by Hearts in a game that ended with four goals to nil.
Hibs have had a decent run in the league recently but nothing too spectacular. Recent form has been below average - a draw with Kilmarnock then knocked out of the Scottish Cup by fierce rivals, Hearts and a narrow 1-0 win against Dundee.
It looks like a clear win for Celtic, but only if Celtic are willing to improve their own form. I predict Celtic 3-1 Hibernian.
Hamilton Academical vs Dundee (KO: 15:00)
It's Accies vs Dundee today, 9th against 10th.
Despite being lower in the league, I think Dundee can get the three points and overtake today's opponents. It might even be a draw.
I think it'll be a 1-2 away victory for Dundee.
Hearts of Midlothian vs Motherwell (KO: 15:00)
5th placed Hearts today take on Motherwell, who sit below them, with a 6 point gap. It's likely a clear winner for the Jam Tarts.
4-1 to Hearts looks likely.
St. Johnstone vs Partick Thistle (KO: 15:00)
St Johnstone host Partick thistle today and I think the Saints will take a 2-0 win over the eleventh placed Partick.
That concludes Saturday's games, all of which begin at 3:00 PM.
Moving on to the television highlight -
Ross County vs Rangers (KO: 14:00) - Sky Sports Main Event.
Rangers travel to Dingwall on Sunday to face bottom-placed Ross County.
County, who have only won 4 games this season, and have suffered 2 losses to Rangers already, look like the clear losers. Could they even be looking at playing in the Championship next season?
Another thing that I thought was worth mentioning is the likely appearance of County's new boy - Inih Effiong. The interesting thing about this man is he got out of jail short of three years ago. He spent most of his childhood and teen life involved in gangs and knife crime before his friend was murdered, he ended up with a life of adulthood crime and found himself in the wraths of the law frequently. He found himself, at age 23, locked up for a drugs bus for 3 months. Three years later, he claims he's turned his life around and is ready to kickstart his career again with the Staggies.
Rangers have moved into days of better form than earlier in the season and will be hoping for that to continue. Before the new year, Rangers saw a win against Motherwell and a goalless draw in the Old Firm, a game in which they dominated. The Gers then moved on to play in the Florida Cup, where we saw a 1-0 win against Atletico Mineiro and a stunning comeback 4-2 win over Brazilian giants, Corinthians. They kickstarted the new year off with a dominant 2-0 home win against Aberdeen, making Graeme Murty unbeaten against them.
Rangers will be hoping for a win tomorrow and are expected to do so. If they can get a 3-1 victory, it will be very well deserved.
That's all for Matchday 24 of the first phase of the SPL. Let me know your predictions by tweeting me @samjsneddon.