One of the three matches scheduled to kick-off at 15:00 GMT in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday will be played in Paisley where local team St Mirren aim to get their campaign off to a perfect start when hosting Livingston. Both sides will enter this opener confident in their ability to grab the three points, but which club will come out on top?
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St Mirren narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship last season after spending much of the campaign stuck at the wrong end of the table. They are a side with a limited transfer budget and many followers of the Scottish game believe the Saints could struggle again this term. Opponents Livingston ended fifth with another top-six finish the target again. Achieving that gives clubs an extra game against the Old Firm which provides a financial boost.
Neutrals planning to follow this match in Paisley will hope Saturday’s game can match the excitement of the Saints last home game against Livi when the pair played out a thrilling 3-3 draw back in December. The Livi Lions took a 2-1 lead into the half-time break that day but were matched by a dogged opponent who refused to lie down on their own patch. The stats attached to this fixture show both teams have scored in each of the last four encounters.
St Mirren must hit the goals trail
St Mirren can count themselves rather lucky to still be in the top tier of Scottish football after they endured another tough season during the reduced 2019/20 campaign. The home team were one of the pundits’ favourites to be relegated and they were involved in the race to beat the bottom two for much of the year. When the league was called after 30 games due to the coronavirus lockdown, St Mirren were two places and two points above the bottom two. They returned season stats of 7 wins and 8 draws against 15 defeats, conceding 41 goals in the process.
When taking a closer look at the Saints’ number from last season we notice they scored just 24 goals which made them the lowest scorers in the division, netting seven fewer goals than Hearts who ended bottom of the league and dropped into the Championship. That’s something St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin will be keen to improve upon in pre-season and heading into the new campaign. Keeping things tight in defence is important to remain in the league but if St Mirren continue to struggle for goals, they will always have the threat of relegation hanging over them.
Goodwin has made moves in the summer transfer market to bolster his squad and recently announced the arrival of Ross County captain Marcus Fraser. That caught a few supporters by surprise as it was a big signing for the Saints and Fraser will walk into the team and is expected to hold down a regular slot in the starting 11 this season. His experience and leadership qualities could prove invaluable in helping his new employers steer clear of the bottom two.
Livi Lions target Europe
Since being promoted from the Championship Livingston have held their own in the Scottish Premiership and fans of the club will expect them to do the same again this year. They may have one of the smallest supporters in the division in terms of attendances at Almondvale, but the Livi Lions are a hard-working outfit who have been punching above their weight. They secured a top-six finish last season and when setting out their aims for this campaign that will be the target again. Ending in the top six gives clubs an extra game against Celtic and Rangers, boosting profits.
Livingston posted a fifth-place finish at the end of the 2019/20 season with their points per game average settled at 1.30. That meant they missed out on a top-four and entry into this season’s Europa League competition by a mere 0.20 points, but the club will take confidence from that and use it to drive them on when play resumes. Livingston finished with 10 wins and 9 draws against 11 defeats, scoring 41 goals and conceding 39. They scored the same number as Motherwell who finished third and will be playing in Europe in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.
There’s plenty for the visiting team to build on and they will believe they are good enough to get off the mark with an opening game win at St Mirren. Manager Gary Holt has spent the summer trying to hold on to his best players rather than concentrating on bringing in new faces. Striker Lyndon Dykes is wanted by a number of clubs and has been attracting attention from the English Championship. It’s not known if Dykes is keen to leave but if the price is right the decision may be taken out of his hands by the club’s board.
St Mirren vs Livingston prediction
It’s always difficult to make predictions on matches in the early exchanges of a new season, especially when the teams seem perfectly matched. There shouldn’t be an awful lot between these sides on Saturday and St Mirren enjoy home advantage, but they are notoriously slow starters in the Scottish Premiership and could take time to find their feet again.
Livingston are more than capable of winning this match if producing the kind of form we came to expect from them last season. If Dykes plays and the striker is focussed on doing a job for Livingston, then he should be a major player in this game as he rates as the Lions’ main scoring threat. Livi’s best performance could be enough to win in Paisley.
Scottish Premiership odds
The pre-match betting at 22BET for this fixture has St Mirren priced at 39/20 to grab a home win. Livingston are available at 29/20 to leave with all three points or there’s 9/4 for those who can’t split the teams and expect this one to end in a draw.
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