Four games will be played in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday in the opening weekend of the 2020/21 campaign. Three of those games kick-off in the traditional 15:00 GMT slot including the match at Tannadice where newly promoted Dundee United host St Johnstone in what’s expected to provide followers with a competitive 90 minutes.
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The home team make their long-awaited return to the top tier of Scottish football after time spent in the wilderness of the Scottish Championship. They suffered a number of failed promotion bids over the years but finally got themselves over the line thanks to a title win last term. The season was cut short, Dundee United handed the trophy early but that did nothing to take the shine off the club’s achievements for fans.
Followers of the stats have to go back to April 2015 for the last league match involving Dundee United and St Johnstone at this venue. The Saints bagged a hard-fought 2-1 win that day thanks to goals from Kane and Davidson which were scored less than two minutes apart. That came after Dundee United opened the scoring through McKay. Three of the last four meetings of Dundee Utd and St Johnstone has seen both teams find the net and football fans will hope for more of the same.
Mellon targeting new recruits
Dundee United finished top of a 10-team Scottish Championship last season after the campaign cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak and resulting UK lockdown. With between 26 and 28 games played of a scheduled 36, United were in the top spot on 59 points which gave them points per game average of 2.11, enough to earn them the trophy and promotion back to the Premiership. At the other end of the division, Partick Thistle were relegated despite being just two points behind Queen of the South and safety with a game in hand. This caused a bitter civil war that resulted in the matter heading to the courts.
Micky Mellon was tasked with leading the club into a new dawn and the aim for this season is to avoid relegation at all costs. A top-six finish would be nice for Dundee United fans, but the board don’t appear to be in a rush to overspend and aim to high at the risk of it all going wrong and the club dropping back down to the Championship. Followers of Scottish football will get a good idea of what to expect from the home time this season after this match.
Manager Mellon has been busy working to improve his squad during the summer months and although he doesn’t have a massive transfer kitty available he will aim to seek out the bargains, bringing promising young players to Scotland, sold on the promise of being part of something special for a big name in British football. Luke Bolton was one of the new faces to arrive at Tannadice after the winger signed on loan for the season from Manchester City. The 20-year-old played for Luton Town last season and will be determined to make an impact north of the border.
Saints bring in Lions pair
St Johnstone were involved in the Scottish Premiership last season when posting a sixth-place finish. The Perth side played their part in some fantastic games during the last campaign, including a thrilling home draw against Rangers earlier this year. The board will set out their expectations for the coming season and are likely to task manager Callum Davidson with leading the team to a top-four finish and place in the Europa League. That seems like an achievable task.
The Saints finished nine points behind Aberdeen in fourth last term, but they did have a game in hand when the season was called off and will be confident in their ability to find the improvement needed to finish in the prize places. They returned stats of 8 wins and 12 draws against 9 defeats, scoring 28 goals but conceding 46. Improving that leaky defence will be one of the coaching staff’s priorities this season as they conceded five more goals than St Mirren who were involved in the fight to beat relegation for much of the year.
St Johnstone have also been busy in the transfer market and have taken advantage of loan deals to tempt a few promising young players from English football to McDiarmid Park. London side Millwall send duo Isaac Olaofe and Danny McNamara to the Saints and both youngers will know that unless they are able to shine in Scotland, they could see their future at The Den come under pressure. This is a real chance for both men to show they are ready to break into the Lions first team. Manager Davidson worked with the two players during his spell as assistant manager of Millwall and obviously feels he can trust them to come up and do a job. That will be encouraging for supporters.
Dundee United vs St Johnstone prediction
Much has changed in the Scottish Premiership since top tier football was last placed at Tannadice, but the home team will be keen to set down a marker for the season and get off to a winning start. St Johnstone were a midtable side last term and one capable of improving on that so a win for United would inject confidence into the home dressing room.
The current crop of players at St Johnstone are much more experienced in the challenges of playing Premiership football and that could prove to be the distance in what could be a tough 90 minutes. The visitors are an ambitious bunch and look good enough to get the win and start the season as they mean to go on.
Scottish Premiership odds
The pre-match betting odds for this game have been set and have Dundee United at 7/4 to bag a home win. The draw is 9/4 or there’s 8/5 to those who fancy taking a chance on St Johnstone to get the three points.