Our football writers Ian Roache and Neil Robertson use this week’s Talking Football to look forward to an East End Park cracker, ponder how St Johnstone will do at Pittodrie and consider whether it was a point gained or two lost for Dundee.
Q: Is there an argument for saying Dunfermline versus Dundee United is the game of the day in Scotland on Saturday?
IR: It will certainly get the fans turning out, with a large home support guaranteed and the United fans sure to travel in big numbers as they have done for each away game this season. I think they will all be thoroughly entertained by two teams going all out for victory.
NR: Put it this way, if this game ends 0-0, I will eat my hat! There should be plenty for the fans to savour with the home side in rampant form at the moment and United boosted by Saturday’s win over Morton. As for the game of the day, I am not so sure as there are a couple of tasty-looking matches in the Premiership.
Q: Or could it be the “best of the rest” battle between Aberdeen and St Johnstone at Pittodrie in the Premiership?
IR: The second v third clash in the top flight should also be a cracker but, as I am working at East End Park, I’m going to be biased and say it won’t quite match the fare on offer in Fife.
NR: I have been a bit of a lucky mascot for Saints in the Granite City recently and was lucky enough to cover the unforgettable 5-1 victory two years ago. I don’t think there will be a similar scoreline this weekend but I would not rule out another St Johnstone win, especially as I am yet to be convinced by this new-look Aberdeen side.
Q: The Tangerines appear to have turned a corner with that attacking display against Morton but can they sustain it at East End Park?
IR: I think they can keep it going and get three points that will send out a signal that they are back as promotion favourites. The performance against Morton will have given the players a barrowload of confidence and, as we know, confidence is crucial in football. United’s players will believe they can win on Saturday despite Dunfermline’s form and that’s half the battle.
NR: I remain convinced that United boss Ray McKinnon has assembled a squad capable of winning the league and the importance of the Morton result should not be underestimated. The game at Dunfermline will be a different challenge to the ones United face most weeks as the Pars will definitely not sit back and invite the Tangerines on, something that could work in the favour of McKinnon’s men.
Q: As for the Pars, they must be pinching themselves. Top of the league with a 15-plus goal difference means they must be favourites this weekend, agree?
IR: It is nothing short of a brilliant run and they deserve to be pre-match favourites. To be averaging three goals a game in the league is a credit to the players and boss Allan Johnston. My concern would be keeping up this relentless pace long-term and United will provide their toughest test yet.
NR: One national bookmaker makes the Pars favourites – but only just. I think that’s probably an accurate assessment considering the run they are on and the fact they are at home.
Q: Saints have a good record against the Dons in the Granite City so can they do it again up there?
IR: Aberdeen were absolutely hammered by Motherwell in the Betfred Cup then were fortunate to win in the league at Fir Park. I think Saints can get a draw thanks to another tactical battle won by Tommy Wright.
NR: As I said above, yes.
Q: Was that a point gained for Dundee down at Kilmarnock or two points lost?
IR: A draw away to a team from your area of the table can be a good result if followed up properly. The Dark Blues welcome Hearts to Dens on Saturday and if they can beat Craig Levein’s side then suddenly four points out of six looks pretty tidy.
NR: Dark Blues boss Neil McCann was first to admit his side were far from their best in Ayrshire. Killie passed up several good opportunities so definitely a point gained.
Q: Are you excited by the Scotland squad announced for the two remaining World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Slovenia or should we all brace ourselves for disappointment?
IR: Scotland played some great stuff in Lithuania against a lacklustre opposition then won at home to Malta without breaking sweat. The clash with Slovakia a week on Thursday will be a whole new ball game. They can win it and set themselves up for Slovenia but with the national team you never truly know what to expect.
NR: I am not sure if “excited” is the correct word to describe how I have felt about any Scotland squad in recent years. However, here’s hoping they can keep our slim qualification hopes alive.