The curse of the live TV game struck again on Thursday when the quality served up by St Johnstone and Aberdeen was, well, an acquired taste. It won’t have caused a rush on the subscription department of Sky Sports, put it that way.
There have been a few televised duds since the start of the season, so we could do with some barnstormers this weekend. With a record of three wins, three draws and four losses against Rangers in the last two seasons, Kilmarnock will travel to Ibrox knowing that at their best they can cause them real problems.
Celtic go to a buoyant Dundee United in what could be a fascinating encounter. Fifth place St Mirren could enter ‘Tony Fitzpatrick country’ in the Scottish Premiership table if they beat Ross County.
In the air now there is a modicum of hope of crowds beginning to return to stadiums. That was the update from government this week. Baby steps back to normality so long as nobody spits the dummy.
For some, this is game week five already. Time flies.
Motherwell to surely break their duck
Stephen Robinson’s team are still without a win this season. Indeed, they’ve won just once in their last 14 games in all competitions. It’s a lousy run, but things might be looking up for them somewhat.
Their 0-0 draw against Hibs at Easter Road last weekend was a step forward. They probably deserved to win that one. Hibs, after a fine start to the season, tailed off that day. They were flat and offered very little. Motherwell were the hungrier side, a quality that Robinson had been searching for.
He made a few changes and he got the attitude he desired. His praise of his front three – Sherwin Seedorf, Jordan White and Callum Lang – wasn’t just merited but it was also a not-too-subtle message to the man he dropped, Chris Long.
Motherwell host Hamilton on Saturday. With three losses and only one goal to their name, the visitors won’t travel in hope. This is surely the moment Motherwell get back on the winning trail, isn’t it?
Duffy to Celtic makes sense
Celtic have a trappy fixture at Tannadice on Saturday. They’ll be hot favourites, of course, but United seem to be building some momentum under Micky Mellon and have some confidence going into this one following their 2-1 win at Dingwall last weekend. That’s six points from three games while having to do without their talisman Lawrence Shankland. It’s an encouraging start.
All the talk at Celtic has been about possible comings and goings. Brighton’s Shane Duffy has been the centre of much of the chat. As a centre-half, Duffy is different to what Celtic currently have. He’s not particularly a ball player like Christopher Jullien or Kristoffer Ajer. He’s an out-and-out defender; committed, aggressive, honest.
Watching Celtic’s early season problems in dealing with physical strikers, it’s no surprise that Duffy is on their radar. He’s fallen out of the team at Brighton, but the Republic of Ireland international has that hard-nosed attitude to defending that would be useful in Neil Lennon’s team. Lennon said he’s monitoring the situation. It’s unlikely he’s alone in that.
Kent not for sale
Ryan Kent is talented, no doubt about it. Quick, elusive, hard-working and capable of scoring goals, many people are convinced that he will turn into a serious player. On what we’ve seen so far – 80 games in the Rangers jersey – he’s not in that bracket yet.
He’s capable of excellence, but doesn’t produce it nearly often enough. His side needed some brilliance from him last Sunday as they toiled against Livingston, but he didn’t produce. Rangers forked out a lot of money on players like Kent so that they could dig the team out of that kind of stalemate.
There isn’t much in the way of overwhelming evidence as yet that Kent is worth the £7m that Rangers paid for him, but they are still minded to turn down the £10m that Leeds United have reportedly offered. That’s fair enough. If they really want him that badly they’ll come back in again.
Gerrard says that Leeds were “way, way off” with their bid. It begs some questions – how much more than £10m do Rangers think he’s worth and when is he going to consistently play like a player worth that fee? Kent really needs to start lighting it up a bit more often.
Livingston should be wary of Stokes
Livingston began life after Lyndon Dykes by signing the German striker, Lars Lokotsch, while revealing that they were intending to have talks with former Celtic and Hibernian forward, Anthony Stokes.
On the face of it, Stokes could be a great capture. He’s still only 32, he knows the Scottish scene, he’s a proven performer in this environment. What’s also beyond dispute is that Stokes has more baggage than Heathrow.
Having left Hibs after a string of disciplinary problems, he went to Apollon Smyrnis in Greece, where his contract was terminated for allegedly not turning up for training. He moved on to Iran and Tractor Sazi and was doing well until he exited over a dispute about unpaid wages. Next, he went to Adana Demirspor in Turkey, where his contract was cancelled after just six games.
His most recent club, Persepolis in Iran, parted company with him in the wake of his arrest in connection with allegations of stalking his former partner. He has pleaded not guilty.
Stokes has a history of scoring goals but also has some troubling episodes in his past. Livingston need a striker, but they could do without the hassle that seems to follow Stokes wherever he goes.