Granted we’re early doors, but the Scottish Premiership table has a funny look to it.
Hibs seem to be back to their former credible selves after taking 10 points from a possible 12; level with Rangers at the summit before the Saturday games.
Just below the leaders, we’ve got Ross f***ing County, newly-promoted Dundee United and St. Mirren.
I’m not suggesting anyone presses the panic buttons yet, but Motherwell have aspirations of European football this season. While the defeat to Rangers is nothing to be too worried about, they did seem quite below par in their 1-0 win over St. Johnstone on Thursday.
They managed just six shots – and luckily for them, Ryan Hedges popped up late to convert one of just three shots on target for The Dons. St. Johnstone will take heart from that showing though, as their performances have been more than acceptable early doors. They welcome Hibs on Sunday, and that feels like a game Callum Davidson will target.
On paper, Aberdeen should be beating Livingston well at Pittodrie, but a clean sheet against Rangers could well be the catalyst to stop the leaks at the back which have hampered any aspirations they had in West Lothian.
A little Scottish Premiership double seems like a good way to warm up for the Champions League final, does it not?
There’s just too much experience in this Aberdeen team to see them fall into a slump and they’ve got a kind fixture against Livingston, who, when away from their artificial surface, don’t quite possess that leveller.
And yes, you can certainly make the case that Livingston’s performances to date maybe undersell them somewhat, but they’re coming up against a side who need to win- and that’s the problem. Maybe if Livingston could lull The Dons into a low-tempo Sunday game, they’d be fair game for a point – but I can’t see it.
It’s only a matter of time before Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn start firing in place of the injured Sam Cosgrove and when that finally clicks, they’ll be my idea of favourites to finish third in this competition.
Have Hibs been blessed this early? Opening season games against Kilmarnock and Livingston were somewhat of a blessing, and while 10 points from 12 clearly means they have something about them, they did surrender 57% possession to Motherwell in their previous league outing.
That lack of the ball, which they seem quite comfortable with, will eventually mean they’re not in control of their results for large spells of the season and this feels like the first slip-up.
If Jack Ross persists with his 4-4-2 shape, and Ali McCann is on song, I think Hibs will struggle to create, as an emphasis on possession should sway their boss from running out with a 3-4-3 formation again.
If Michael O’Halloran is on song again, he’s the type of difference maker you’d expect in this tie – although it’s unlikely he’ll do the full 90 minutes after a trojan shift on Thursday night.
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