Scottish Premiership Picks: Aberdeen out for revenge & Daizen Maeda’s World Cup mission

Prem picks

So here it is, Merry…

Wait, not quite yet, but the Scottish Premiership is about to go on a hiatus usually associated with the festive period.

Saturday’s six games are the last round of fixtures before the World Cup brings about a four-week domestic break.

Here are the games and names to look out for…

Game of the weekend: Aberdeen v Dundee United

One of several away days to forget this year for Aberdeen was last month’s 4-0 trouncing at Dundee United.

The two sides meet again at Pittodrie for an early evening showdown in what will be the last top-flight match until mid-December.

In theory, Aberdeen are in their happy place, having won their five of their six home league games with goals to spare, but there will be a sense of frustration among the squad following Tuesday’s loss at Livingston.

And United are buoyant after they secured another 4-0 home win, this time over Kilmarnock, to move off the bottom of the table.

The challenge for United now is whether they can pick up their first Premiership win on the road.

The bad news for the visitors is they have managed just one victory in their past 13 league trips to Aberdeen but, curiously, all five of their successes this season across all competitions have come in late kick-offs.

Player to watch: Daizen Maeda (Celtic)

Daizen Maeda

One player heading to the World Cup after this weekend is Celtic and Japan forward Daizen Maeda.

His inclusion in Hajime Moriyasu’s squad for Qatar is not in itself a surprise but the absence of Maeda’s more prolific club-mate Kyogo Furuhashi and influential midfielder Reo Hatate have raised eyebrows on these shores at least.

After sitting on just the one goal for the season and none in the league until the recent 6-1 hammering of Hibernian, Maeda now has three in seven Premiership matches, including the vital second in the 2-1 defeat of Motherwell on Wednesday.

Saturday’s visit of Ross County is Maeda’s last chance to really press his World Cup case.

Manager spotlight: Lee Johnson (Hibernian)

The pressure is mounting on Hibernian manager Lee Johnson after five defeats in six league outings. However, the intricacies of the Premiership mean the Easter Road side are one of four clubs sitting just two points off third place.

Their pre-World Cup programme concludes with an away match against Kilmarnock, a team themselves feeling the heat after dropping to the bottom.

It’s been a tricky reintroduction to the top flight for Derek McInnes’ side but they have only lost twice in seven league games on their own patch of plastic.

Hibs have won their past six encounters with Kilmarnock in all tournaments but will again be without the influential Martin Boyle as he fights to be fit for his place in Australia’s squad.

Without the speedy forward, Johnson’s side look rather toothless in attack.