The following sentence is one that I never imagined I would ever have to write when I took the decision to pursue a career as a football writer:
“Motherwell and St Johnstone go head to head on Saturday with a Champions League place at stake.”
Incredibly, though, Rangers’ demise has led to an unprecedented opportunity for one of Scotland’s ‘other’ clubs to grab a dream debut in UEFA’s flagship competition, and Saturday’s game is crucial to Motherwell’s and St Johnstone’s hopes of seizing that chance.
Last week’s 3-0 defeat by Celtic has left Stuart McCall’s side clinging to the Champions League qualifying spot by just three points from Dundee United, who they have still to play, while the Saints are five points behind and drinking in last chance saloon.
While third place will be good enough to take the prize, the number three takes on even more significance when you look back at the previous meetings between the sides, because the winning team has scored three goals in all of the last four fixtures.
Motherwell and St Johnstone go head to head on Saturday with a Champions League place at stake.
In January, Motherwell beat their Perth rivals 3-2 at Fir Park, while in December they won 3-0 at McDiarmid Park. Before that, St Johnstone won the season’s first meeting of the sides 3-0 in Lanarkshire, while the final clash between the teams at Fir Park last season also ended in a 3-0 win, this time for the Steelmen.
Motherwell to win 3-0 is priced at 17/1 with bwin, while St Johnstone to win by the same scoreline is 35/1.
But in order to increase your chances you could look instead at the multiple correct score market.
A multiple correct score bet of 3:2, 4:2, 4:3 or 5:1, which would mean that Motherwell win by one of those scorelines (therefore scoring at least three goals), is available at 15/1, while the reverse correct score cast of 2:3, 2:4, 3:4 or 1:5, meaning that St Johnstone win by one of those scorelines (therefore scoring at least three goals) is on offer at 22/1.
Neither side goes into the game on great form, with Motherwell having failed to win any of their last four matches and St Johnstone winless in their last three.
In ‘Well’s favour, two of their defeats have come against Rangers and Celtic and, if you exclude the matches against the dominant Old Firm, they have won their last five SPL home games, last tasting defeat at Fir Park to a non-Old Firm side on January 14th.
A home win on Saturday is priced at 11/10, while the draw is 11/5.
Defeat at Fir Park will all but kill off St Johnstone’s hopes, and if they are going to stay in the race they will have to do it without top scorer Fran Sandaza who is ruled out through suspension. A Saints win is available at 12/5.
With three of their last four meetings finishing 3-0, however, I can’t help but be tempted by that possibility above any other.
New customers to bwin who register online qualify for a free £25 bet, and if you use that to back a 3-0 win for Motherwell at 17/1 you stand to win a whopping £450 if successful.
Recommended bet: Motherwell to win 3-0 @ 17/1
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