September 18, 2021

Scottish Premiership opening weekend preview

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Team news and stats for the opening weekend of the Scottish Premiership games as Livingston visit champions Rangers, while Celtic travel to Hearts.

Rangers vs Livingston – Saturday, kick-off 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports

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Rangers captain James Tavernier says their standards must not drop if they are to retain their Scottish Premiership title and do well in the Champions League this season

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos is in quarantine after returning from an extended close season in Colombia.

Ryan Jack is awaiting the green light from a specialist to resume full-contact training following a calf injury.

Rangers will assess the fitness of their Euro 2020 players but reported no other absentees after Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo sat out recent friendlies.

Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley is suspended for the trip to face Rangers at Ibrox.

The player/assistant manager has a two-match ban carried over from last season, but has not featured in the Premier Sports Cup anyway.

Livi will closely monitor the fitness of several players following their Covid-19 problems and some will be given more time to return.

Saturday 31st July 12:30pm Kick off 1:30pm

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  • Rangers will kick off a season as defending Scottish champions for the first time since 2011-12, which was also the last time that Scottish top-flight matches were played in the month of July. The Gers drew their opening game of that campaign 1-1 at home to Hearts under Ally McCoist, coming from behind in the match thanks to Steven Naismith’s equaliser.
  • Rangers have won eight of their last nine league meetings with Livingston (D1) since a 0-1 defeat in September 2018, their first such match against them under Steven Gerrard.
  • Livingston have failed to score in each of their last six league matches against Rangers (D1 L5). Indeed, they have managed just 33 shots across those games (5.5 per game), with only seven of these on target (1.2 per game), while these shots combined to just 3.0 Expected Goals (0.5 xG per game).

How to watch: Watch Rangers vs Livingston live on Sky Sports Football from 12.30pm; kick-off 1.30pm. Our live match blog – on the Sky Sports website and app – will also bring you all the action as it happens and free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later that evening.

Dundee vs St Mirren – Saturday, kick-off 3pm

FORFAR, SCOTLAND - JUNE 26: Dundee's Charlie Adam in action during a Friendly Match between Forfar Athletic and Dundee at Station Park, on June 26, 2021, in Forfar, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group) 5:03
Dundee captain Charlie Adam talks about the club’s targets during the new Premiership season, taking inspiration from cup double winners St Johnstone and looks ahead to the Dundee derby

Dundee’s selection problems have eased ahead of their cinch Premiership return.

One unnamed player remains out for the visit of St Mirren after catching Covid-19. But five players who were identified as potential close contacts have been cleared to play.

Charlie Adam (calf) and Liam Fontaine (hamstring) are expected to make the game.

But Alex Jakubiak (hamstring) and Cammy Kerr (knee) look set to miss out for James McPake’s side.

St Mirren have a full bill of health for the trip to Tayside.

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  • This will be Dundee’s first Scottish Premiership campaign since 2018-19; they also faced St. Mirren on the opening day of that season, losing 1-2.
  • St. Mirren lost none of their four league meetings with Dundee the last season in which they faced in the Scottish Premiership (2018-19), winning three and drawing one.
  • Only two of the last 13 newly-promoted clubs have lost their opening league match of a Scottish top-flight season (W4 D7), with Hamilton going down 0-2 to Inverness in 2014-15 and Livingston losing 1-3 at Celtic in 2018-19.

How to watch: Free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later in the evening.

Ross County vs St Johnstone – Saturday, kick-off 3pm

Malky Mackay is enjoying his return to club management despite coronavirus hampering his plans for Ross County 0:41
Malky Mackay is hopeful Ross County can push for a top-six finish in the Premiership in the future but says cementing the club’s top-flight status is his first priority

Austrian midfielder David Cancola will have to wait for his Ross County debut.

County begin their cinch Premiership campaign against St Johnstone on Saturday but the new signing from Slovan Liberec is in quarantine until Monday.

County have been trying to sort a loan deal for Arsenal defender Harry Clarke.

Chris Kane is unlikely to start for St Johnstone.

The striker has not had the same game time as his team-mates during pre-season.

However, Kane could feature from the bench in Dingwall.

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  • Ross County have only enjoyed one win in their last 11 league meetings with St. Johnstone (D7 L3), a 1-0 triumph under Stuart Kettlewell in September 2020.
  • St. Johnstone are unbeaten in eight league visits to Ross County (D4 L4) since a 1-0 defeat in April 2015. Each of their last four such trips, however, have finished in a score draw.
  • Ross County have won each of their last three Scottish Premiership matches played on MD1, beating Dundee in 2017-18, Hamilton in 2018-19 and Motherwell last season. The Staggies had lost each of their previous four season openers before this.

How to watch: Free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later in the evening.

Hearts vs Celtic – Saturday – Saturday, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

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Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, new Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou says he and his staff have already worked through a lot of items on their to do list since joining the club

New arrival Beni Baningime could start for Hearts in their cinch Premiership opener against Celtic.

The midfielder trained with Hearts on Thursday and Friday and will be in the squad for Saturday’s game.

John Souttar is set to feature after missing the cup win over Inverness as a precaution.

Swedish defender Carl Starfelt is in the Celtic squad after completing his quarantine period.

Fellow new signing Kyogo Furuhashi is expected to arrive this weekend but is unlikely to play.

Leigh Griffiths (calf) remains out but Nir Bitton is back from a European ban.

Saturday 31st July 7:30pm Kick off 8:00pm

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  • Hearts will open a Scottish Premiership season against Celtic for the third time since the competition was rebranded in 2013, losing both previous such meetings (1-2 in 2016-17 and 1-4 in 2017-18).
  • Celtic have won each of their last six league meetings with Hearts, scoring at least twice in each such victory.
  • Only two of the last 13 newly-promoted clubs have lost their opening league match of a Scottish top-flight season (W4 D7), with Hamilton going down 0-2 to Inverness in 2014-15 and Livingston losing 1-3 at Celtic in 2018-19.

How to watch: Watch Hearts vs Celtic live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm; kick-off 8pm. Our live match blog – on the Sky Sports website and app – will also bring you all the action as it happens and free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later that evening.

Aberdeen vs Dundee United – Sunday, kick-off 3pm

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Dundee United boss Thomas Courts says he wants to give young players a chance this season and gives an update on the future of Lawrence Shankland and Benjamin Siegrist

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is set to be fit for Aberdeen’s cinch Premiership opener at home to Dundee United on Sunday.

The summer recruit from Livingston sustained a nasty facial gash during Thursday’s Europa Conference League qualifier at BK Hacken, but the forward is expected to recover in time for this weekend.

Youngster Dean Campbell sat out the trip to Gothenburg due to a training-ground knock and will be assessed ahead of the league opener at Pittodrie.

Dundee United manager Tam Courts reported a clean bill of health for his first league match in charge.

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  • There have been just seven goals in the last eight Scottish Premiership meetings between Aberdeen and Dundee United, with their three such clashes last season seeing just one goal scored – Adrian Sporle’s winner for the Tangerines in March.
  • Aberdeen and Dundee United last faced off on MD1 of a league season in 2015-16, with the Dons winning 1-0, while they last did so at Pittodrie in 2014-15, which the Tangerines won 3-0.
  • For a fifth consecutive season, Aberdeen will play at home on the opening weekend; they lost their season opener 1-0 to Rangers last term, while they haven’t done so in back-to-back league campaigns since a run of three in a row from 2007-08 to 2009-10 – a streak which included defeat to Dundee United (in 2007-08).

How to watch: Free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later in the evening.

Motherwell vs Hibernian – Sunday, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

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New Motherwell signing Kevin Van Veen says he’s ready to make a positive impression at Fir Park in this season’s Scottish Premiership after struggling with injuries previously at Scunthorpe

Motherwell will assess the fitness of new signing Juhani Ojala ahead of the cinch Premiership opener against Hibernian.

The Finland defender was in quarantine ahead of his signing on Thursday.

Bevis Mugabi has trained this week following shoulder surgery but might have to wait for his first appearance of the season while Liam Grimshaw, Connor Shields and Mark O’Hara remain on the sidelines.

Hibernian hope to have Scott Allan back for the trip to Lanarkshire.

The midfielder missed the midweek European win over Santa Coloma with a slight injury.

Joe Newell returns from suspension for the league opener.

Sunday 1st August 4:00pm Kick off 4:30pm

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  • Motherwell, who won their last league meeting with Hibernian 2-0 in February last season, last won back-to-back top-flight matches against Hibs in November 2013 under Stuart McCall (four in a row).
  • Hibernian are looking to pick up back-to-back away top-flight wins at Motherwell for the first time since September 2009, having won their last such visit 3-0 in December last season.
  • Motherwell have failed to win their opening match in each of the last four league seasons (D1 L3) since a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock on MD1 in 2016-17.

How to watch: Watch Motherwell vs Hibernian live on Sky Sports Football from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm. Our live match blog – on the Sky Sports website and app – will also bring you all the action as it happens and free match highlights will be published on the Sky Sports website, app and YouTube channel later that evening.

Key dates in the Scottish Premiership 2021/22 season

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The Scottish Premiership will kick off on the weekend of Saturday July 31 and Sunday August 1.

The top-flight will once again take a winter break from Monday January 3 until Wednesday January 26.

After 33 games, the league splits into two sections of six teams, with each team playing each other in that section.

The 2021/22 Scottish Premiership season with Sky Sports

  • Up to 48 live matches from the Scottish Premiership, including every Old Firm encounter.
  • Live coverage presented by Eilidh Barbour with analysis from Kris Boyd and Andy Walker, and more.
  • Round-the-clock coverage on Sky Sports News, on skysports.com and across our Sky Sports social channels.
  • Dedicated Scottish Premiership highlights show every week and free-to-watch highlights of every Scottish Premiership game on our website.
  • Insight and analysis from our Scottish Football Podcast.