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SPL: Stuttering Hibs

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Fifth in the league, a point better off after 26 games of this season than they were after the SPL had run it's course last season.

Hibs fans, punch drunk from their annus horribilis, heard promises in the summer of a rebuilt side capable of making progress.

A top six berth after two-thirds of the season does indeed point to progress.

SPL: Motherwell v Hibs

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An acquaintance, for whom the glass is forever half empty, insisted to me last Sunday evening that Hibs would be in the bottom three of the SPL after the next three games.

That is mathematically possible. And this particular lover of life had, unlike me, endured the trip to Dingwall to see goalkeeper Ben Williams do a Highland fling in losing three goals and three points to Ross County.

SPL: Dundee United v Aberdeen

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According to the encyclopedic @SPLstats Saturday will be the 87th time Dundee United have hosted Aberdeen in a league game at Tannadice.

In the previous 86 matches there have been 29 home wins, 28 away win and 29 draws.

The insperable New Firm.

They've been plotting different routes through the SPL this season though.

SPL: The Joy of Six

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A Saturday Superstore tomorrow. With Neil Doncaster as Mike Read and a half time interview with Craig Brown filling in for a wacky live link with Cheggers.

A splendid SPL smorgasbord seeing out September. Alarming alliteration aside, we can sit back and enjoy six games in the top flight.

SPL: Dundee United v Ross County

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Preparing for his Dundee United side's home clash with Ross County tonight, Peter Houston observed that the visitors look hard to beat.

These days we only expect such powers of deduction in the creations of Steven Moffat.

But give Peter his due. He spent much of the last fortnight polishing Craig Levein's spectacles.

SPL: Five star

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Week three of the SPL.

Week three already. Or week two for any club that feels unconstrained by the league starting when booking their jollydays.

The marketing geniuses whose brains power the Hampden floodlights will be congratulating themselves for starting the SPL season a fortnight before the English could be bothered kicking off.

SPL Preview: Dundee United v Hibs

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A nice quiet Scottish football summer draws to an close. A pleasant couple of months they've been, devoted to considered reflection, removed from the hurly-burly, the hysteria and the rancour of the season.

And now it's over. Time for the (fun and) games to begin.

The new season dawns with a TV deal in place, a 12 team SPL, a 30 team SFL, mixed European results and Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan continuing to career through the corridors of Hampden like the Chuckle Brothers with ADHD.

SPL: Timing is everything

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Did your Cup overfloweth last week?

Not so much. Or if it did is was with lukewarm, overly milky tea rather than with an expensive Asti Spumante.

Back to the slog of the SPL today though. What joys await...

St Johnstone v Rangers
Poor timing.

That was Ally McCoist's verdict on his bid for St Johnstone's Francisco Sandaza on the eve of today's game.

East v West: The SPL Today

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It seems like ages since I tickled the malnourished belly of the SPL with a wildly inaccurate prediction post.

I think the last time I Nostradamus-ed the weekend action Rangers had won the title and Motherwell were about to take the Champion's League by storm.

What a difference an eight point swing makes.

SPL: Since Alex Ferguson Said Goodbye

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Four games in the SPL today.

But I'm distracted by Sir Alex Ferguson's upcoming 25th anniversary as manager of Manchester United. A phenomena. From Govan.

The SPL didn't even exist 25 years ago. We must have had football though, whatever they try and tell us.

Must have had it because I'm sure Alex Ferguson left a top flight Scottish club to take over a top flight English club 25 years ago.

SPL: Saturday Superstore

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Six SPL games on a Saturday afternoon? A fixture list that makes me feel dizzy. The past is an unfamiliar place and all that.

A full house. A lunchtime kick off in Ayrshire is the only nod to modernity, the joker in the pack reminding us that we're so totally not, like, living in the last century or something.

Hibs v Aberdeen: Misery on Leith

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What times to be a Hibs supporter.

Bottom of the league, a manager who has become a toxic brand, sections of the support ever more alienated from the vision the board have for the club. And sections of the support who are consistently voting with their feet.

A demonstration is planned before today's game with second bottom Aberdeen.

SPL: Where The Smart Money Goes

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The whirligig that is international week has left me struggling for time as we approach the mundane predictability of the SPL.

So this week's SPL preview has been drawn entirely at random.

Not by me.

I've shipped in a glamorous assistant, a glamorous assistant who is the number one draw every Wednesday night at a "gentleman's club" cabaret in Newcastle.

SPL: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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Apparently Alex Salmond's Scottish Government have rushed through emergency legislation declaring that every football article written must include reference to Scottish football's darkest hour.

So be it.

Scotland manager Craig Levein assured us yesterday that the Scottish game would bounce back from the trials of Thursday night.

SPL: Welcome Home

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After the party, the hangover. The fear. The self loathing.

Rangers thought they'd pulled the good looking girl only to see her disappear into the bedroom with a handsome stranger.

Celtic were ignored most of the night, left to stand in the kitchen nursing a lukewarm can of Skol.

SPL: Goodwillie Hunting

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Another week of SPL fixtures with the sun still not set on July. An abbreviated card today and an abbreviated run through from me as babysitting duties call.

St Johnstone v RangersAfter the drama of this week's bout of Goodwillie hunting and the unfortunate reverse against Malmo Rangers get back to league business.

SPL: Dunfermline v St Mirren

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The GameDunfermline make their SPL return with the TV cameras in attendance for the unveiling of last season's championship flag.

I can't truthfully make a prediction without admitting that the game has already started. It's 0-0 right now.

I'll back - despite the evidence of the opening stages - both teams to score and take a point each.

SPL: Dundee United v Kilmarnock

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The second of today's two opening Sunday fixtures and look at what's going on with Dundee United and Kilmarnock.

The GameLet's quickly gloss over any jokes about how much the early start to the SPL helped Dundee United's European campaign.

After starting with a flurry on Thursday they eventually slipped out of the competition by the narrowest of margins.

SPL: Hibs v Celtic

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The first of Sunday's two SPL games as Celtic travel to Hibs to give a green tinge to the opening weekend.

The GameFor a variety of reasons, some of which are explored below, this is an away win for me. End of.*

HibsWell, what a swell summer it's been for Hibs. Managerial uncertainty has swirled, training ground punches have been hurled and transfer deals have unfurled.

SPL: Motherwell v Inverness

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Completing the triangle of opening Saturday fixtures, Stuart McCall's Motherwell host Terry Butcher's Inverness.

The gameTerry Butcher says his team aren't ready. Brutal honesty or bluffing banditry? We'll find out soon enough.

Motherwell lost a Scottish Cup final in their last competitive appearance.

SPL: Aberdeen v St Johnstone

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The second of Saturday's three games and a look at what's in store for Aberdeen and St Johnstone.

The game
I've a feeling both these sides will have been quite happy with the opening day's fixtures. A home game for Aberdeen and an away trip that won't overly scare St Johnstone.

Opening games often have a tentative, feet finding atmosphere and this one seems set up to be exactly that.

SPL: Rangers v Hearts

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The first of this weekend's six preview posts, starting with the first game - Rangers v Hearts. Quite a match to kick things off.

The game
Championship flag a-flappin' in the Govan breeze Rangers have the perfect chance to dismiss as exaggerations any rumours of their footballing demise.

SPL: 12 To Watch - Part One

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Part one of an entirely prejudiced, unscientific look at 12 players I'll be keeping track of in the SPL this season. Maybe not the biggest stars but a player from each team whose progress I'm interested to follow.

Steven Naismith, Rangers
Steven Naismith turns 25 this September. No longer a kid bursting with potential but a senior member of a championship winning squad with a five year contract under his belt.

SPL Today: Celtic Hope As Rangers Eye Prize

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So a desperate season comes down to this.

It is, after all, just football. A game where championships can still turn on the final day, a game where the drama should be confined to the pitch.

Today has already been dubbed Helicopter Sunday.

It says much for the bankruptcy of the SPL's ideas departments that they think using a six year old marketing device will still engender excitment.

SPL: Memories of Eddie Turnbull Dominate

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The starter before the main course. The stale garlic bread with mouldy mozzarella before the Old Firm's Wagyu steak.

The bottom six chunter out of view with everything decided and nowt left to play for. Inverness are safe in seventh - and how we thank the split for making seventh place such an aspirational target - and Hamilton are doon.

SPL Today: Celtic Demand Bouncebackabilty

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The picture of Neil Lennon booting a bottle of water during Celtic's defeat to Inverness spoke volumes.

Which of his underperforming players was he metaphorically kicking up the backside?

Was this Celtic's bottle crashing?

Football teams often play badly. They often choose the worst game to show themselves at their worst.

SPL Today: Hamilton Hang On

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Aberdeen v St JohnstoneRumours that Aberdeen had buggered off on an early summer holiday proved to be exaggerated in last week's win over Inverness. A little northern light in a bleak end to the season.

And St Johnstone scored at Easter Road. Not once but twice. In a win. Winning football games is relatively simple when you score more than the opposition.

SPL Today: Rangers v Hearts

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A good week for Rangers. A good week indeed.

Back in the driving seat in the SPL after Celtic's defeat to Inverness in midweek.

And now a takeover.

A takeover! Finally an end to the most complicated, drawn out transaction since Ivana Trump demanded joint custody of Donald's hair in their divorce settlement.

Scottish football

SPL: Inverness v Ross County

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As one derby door closes, so another opens.

A Highland derby in the SPL for the first time.

Scottish football is dull, parochial, stagnating. Often it is.

But tonight offers something more positive.

A game that represents a geographic expansion that those with power in the central belt long resisted, it's about two clubs making steady rather than spectacular progress through the leagues and it shows that opening the league structure to new blood can result in different clubs being successfully integrated into the game.

SPL Advent: Aberdeen

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In the run up to Christmas the Scottish Football Blog is taking a daily look at the season so far for the 12 SPL clubs.

And what they might hope to find in their stockings.

Alphabetically at least Aberdeen are number one.

Woe seems to hang over Pittodrie like a particularly clingy North Sea haar at the moment.

SPL: Houston Channels Hannibal

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Chelsea and Sunderland march proudly over the border to ensure that Rangers and Hibs are otherwise occupied as this stuttering SPL start continues.

Rangers are out of the Champions League, a result that also marked Madjid Bougherra's last game for the club.

Hearts lost Jim Jefferies, gained Paulo Sergio, gambolled through their European tie and landed a Europa League play-off with the Hotspurs of Tottenham.


SPL: Celtic v Dundee

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Scottish football can be stultifying, it's been over a decade now since the SPL champions faced two promoted sides over the course of their title defence.

Celtic, already a part of Ross County's elongated unbeaten league run, welcome Dundee today.

A lot of people backed Dundee to return immediately from whence they came.

SPL: Celtic v Hibs

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After they both enjoyed SPL wins last Saturday the week rather diverged for Celtic and Hibs.

Celtic progressed to the Champions League group stage, that promised land where the streets are paved with gold and the couches upholstered with £50 notes.

24 hours earlier Hibs were dumped out of the League Cup by Queen of the South in a display that seems to have flitted between pathetic and miserable.

SPL: Finding meaning, finding belief

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Quite a Sunday ahead.

Celtic hosting Rangers and Hibs continuing their long, frustrating struggle to shake off relegation rivals Dunfermline against St Mirren. Two games that might normally have the Betfair football betting experts scratching their heads.

Today's match at Celtic Park is both essentially meaningless and yet crammed full of meaning.

SPL Today: The £35000 Man

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Today's SPL. All of our dirty dozen are in action. Here's a very quick look ahead.

St Mirren v Celtic
Ah, St Mirren. 2-1 up last week with their opponents down to ten men. They lost 5-2.

A season in 90 minutes. The promise, the impressive moments, the entertainment and the frequent disappointments.

SPL: Wednesday Wonders

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The SPL works off the turkey and mince pies with a full Wednesday evening fixture. The eyes of the world upon us once more. Or at least the eyes of those Sky viewers not tempted by the tungsten superheroes at the Ally Pally.

Celtic v Rangers
Apparently recent form has left some Celtic supporters confident about this one.

The Rest

SPL: Happy Hearts Third As Celtic Come Calling

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Third place was eventually delivered to Hearts in the least stressful way.

Dundee United's defeat to Rangers last night gave Hearts the league spot - and the European qualification - that they have deserved.

Things might have fizzled out of late but Hearts gave us one the major narratives, one of the major positive narratives, of the season.