Monday, August 18, 2014

Talking points from the Premiership weekend

Home Comforts
John Hughes is now well on his way to stamping his style of football on Inverness. Last season it brought mixed results especially at home where ICT registered just two wins in twelve under Yogi. This showed no signs of improving after a unimpressive showing last Wednesday against Dundee. Inverness were slow to get the ball forward and appeared content to retain possession for the sake of it exhibiting almost zero urgency to execute anything positive from their play. 

With the above in mind and factoring in ICTs unremarkable record at Fir Park against Motherwell few fancied an away win over the Steelmen. Remarkably, Inverness turned in a fine performance dominating a lacklustre home side with a superb display of incisive passing football, aggressive pressing to win the ball back and some fast, direct attacking play that saw two fantastic goals scored by Greg Tansey and Aaron Doran. If Hughes can transpose this same approach to games in Inverness he could start to get a bit more comfy in the ICT hot seat.  AS

Accies are no pushovers
No team has ever been relegated from the SPL or the Scottish Premiership after picking up six points from their opening two games, so the many folk (this blogger included) who tipped Hamilton Accies for the drop are feeling a little less certain about that prediction.  Their win over St. Johnstone came on the back of a dominant first half performance which showcased the strengths of Alex Neil's side - slick passing and plenty of pace in the final third.  It seems to me like another example of the benefit of having a settled team at the start of the season - their strength as a unit compensates for some of the deficiencies in quality.

Most, if not all, of the sides below them in the table will get stronger and better though, so Accies do need to make hay while the sun shines.  Winning their next two home games, against Ross County and Kilmarnock, would go a long way towards keeping them up.  LS

Celtic look frightening
Yes, Dundee United effectively gave Celtic a three goal head start with atrocious set-piece defending and stupid errors (step forward, Paul Paton), but for the first time Ronny Deila's tweaks to the champions' attack seemed to make them more dangerous, as they repeatedly carved United open.  And that's with the likes of Pukki, Griffiths and Forrest left out of the starting lineup.  It's a scary prospect for the other Premiership clubs - there's certainly enough firepower here to thump every domestic opponent.

As for United, it's hard to see how it could have been any worse - not only a 6-1 defeat, but the sight of Stuart Armstrong, outstanding in the early stages, limping off injured.  They will suffer if he misses a few games.  LS

Call Me Maybe?
After another defensive horror show Derek Adams may make further additions to his squad before the end of the month. With eleven new faces arriving in Dingwall to replace twelve departing players it will inevitably take some time for the squad to gel together. Early signs however have not been promising specifically in respect of the sides defensive qualities, with two more dreadful goals conceded to Kilmarnock.  Especially worrying is that Killie had six new faces in their lineup as well, but their signings appear to be bonding far quicker.  

Aside from Scott Boyd the Staggies have a raft of new defenders in the team along with Antonio Reguero in goals and they need to click sooner rather than later.  They desperately miss Yann Songo'o and if County continue to perform as they are Adams might not wait until January to pick up the phone to Evangelos Ikonomou.  AS

Fox let Partick down
It was hard to believe at the time that Gordon Strachan thought Partick Thistle's Scott Fox was worthy of a Scotland call-up last year.  Fox's increasingly erratic performances after that led to Alan Archibald dropping him after Christmas, and it was a mild surprise to see him restored to the starting lineup for the new campaign.  After the goalkeeper let his teammates down with a moronic swipe at Paul McGowan that got him sent off, it seems likely that he'll be consigned to the subs bench again, especially since veteran replacement Paul Gallacher saved a penalty and made a superb save from Peter MacDonald as well.  Some of the Jags' attacking play was top-drawer again against Dundee; Fox's antics let his team-mates down and prevented them from pushing for a win they probably deserved up till then.  LS

Time for Motherwell and St. Johnstone fans to panic?
Naw.  Remember that the Perth Saints were playing their fourth game in ten days.  As for 'Well, they missed Simon Ramsden, Stevie Hammell and Zaine Francis-Angol, while Iain Vigurs and Henrik Ojamaa were only fit enough for the bench.  Stuart McCall had to play an 18 year old out of position at left back.  McCall is usually pretty good at picking up some good signings at the end of the window, so they should be fine.  LS

The kids are all right
Hell of a strike by Partick Thistle's Gary Fraser, his second in four days.  The reply from Dundee teenager Craig Wighton wasn't too shabby either.  LS

And another thing...
Whoever did the commentary for the Dundee-Partick highlights repeatedly referred to Thistle defender Danny Seaborne as "Seagrove".  Pathetic effort.  LS

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