Celtic - Ross County Betting Preview: Understrength Staggies unlikely to halt Hoops

Neil Lennon's side are red-hot favourites to get their Scottish Premiership campaign off to a winning start and Willie Duncan expects the Hoops to cruise past the visitors here
Celtic begin the defence of their Scottish Premiership crown on Saturday evening when Neil Lennon’s side welcome Ross County to Celtic Park.

The Hoops are widely expected to claim the league title again this season and are chalked up at just 1/4 (1.25) with BetVictor to get their campaign off to the perfect start by claiming all three points against Derek Adams’ side.

Ross County enjoyed a fine debut season in the Scottish top flight last term, finishing in fifth place, and the Staggies will be hoping to begin season 2013-14 in style by winning at Celtic Park.

Adams’ side are priced up at a lengthy 11/1 (12.0) with BetVictor to stun the Hoops on Saturday while the same firm go 19/4 (5.75) that the match ends in stalemate.

Celtic must do without the services of last season’s top scorer, Gary Hooper, after the striker agreed a move to Norwich City last month, but Lennon is not short of attacking options.

Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes and Amido Balde are all vying to lead the line in Celtic’s season opener and all three are rated as a 31/10 (4.10) chance with BetVictor to break the deadlock against the Staggies.

Better value, though, may lie in backing former Derby County midfielder Kris Commons to net the opening goal of the game.

The 29-year-old scored an impressive 19 goals in all competitions for the Hoops last season and scored the only goal of the game when Celtic edged past Elfsborg in the Champions League in midweek. Commons is an appealing 5/1 (6.0) shot with BetVictor to score first this weekend, a price which is likely to prove popular with punters.

Ross County will be without influential duo Richard Brittain and Ivan Sproule, both of whom are suspended for the opening two league games of the season, while Iain Vigurs, who scored nine goals for the club last term, has joined Scottish Premiership rivals Motherwell.

The absence of so many key players will undoubtedly hamper County’s chances of springing a surprise and, indeed, there may be value in backing the 31/40 (1.78) quote from BetVictor for Celtic to keep a clean sheet this weekend.

However, the best bet is the 5/6 (1.83) on offer from BetVictor for Lennon’s men to lead at both half-time and full-time while the juicy 5/1 (6.0) should be backed accordingly.

Celtic to lead at half-time and full-time at 5/6 (1.83) 3pts with BetVictor
Kris Commons to score first at 5/1 (6.0) 0.5pt with BetVictor

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter