Who’ll make the top six?

With just 10 matches to go until the Premiership splits in two, Celtic are already guaranteed a top six place. Another four places look certain to go to Aberdeen, Rangers Hearts and St Johnstone but any one of Dundee, Hamilton, Inverness CT, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Partick Thistle or Ross County could complete the top half.

So, who will it be? Taking into account the results from the first 22 rounds of action, here is one possible outcome.

predictions

By weighting the results of the opening matches (Rounds 1 to 11 weighted 60%, 12 to 22 40%) to take into account the venue for each team’s remaining matches and rounding to the nearest whole number, Kilmarnock would sneak into sixth place by a single point over Partick Thistle and Ross County.

Celtic would comfortably be champions with an Old Firm title decider on March 12 not out of the question and Aberdeen would be guaranteed a Europa League place.

However, there are a couple of things to consider before we can confidently predict who will take sixth.

Firstly, Aberdeen have only played Motherwell once. The table above assumes that Aberdeen will win when the sides meet for their rescheduled round 10 match at Pittodrie on February 15. This seems reasonable considering the Steelmen have picked up just one point against the top five teams so far this season.

Should Motherwell win that game however, they would be the team sneaking into sixth place because they would be expected to pick up more points from their last 10 games than they currently are. It would also see Aberdeen slip down to third and needing another two points to guarantee a place in the Europa League qualifiers.

Taking a look at the unrounded table below shows just how tight it will be for that sixth spot.

predictions2

As a result, goal difference could be huge for Kilmarnock, Patrick Thistle and Ross County and the Jags have no small advantage over their opponents in that respect. Heavy defeats at the hands of Aberdeen and Celtic see Kilmarnock currently on -18 and Ross County are on -15 meaning Partick’s -6 would make them favourite to nick sixth spot.

The final thing to consider are the five games played this midweek. This doesn’t affect Dundee or Kilmarnock after their match was rearranged for February 11 when most of the rest of the league are competing in the Scottish Cup. Four of the games went the way the table would expect.

Motherwell’s win over Ross County and Celtic beating Aberdeen were bankers if the above table is to pan out. St Johnstone’s win over Partick Thistle and Hearts thrashing of Rangers were the favoured result but draws weren’t out of the question. Inverness’s 3-0 defeat to Hamilton wasn’t.

That match was looked at as being another draw given the previous two meetings had ended that way. If Hamilton continue to draw approximately half their games the only difference would be a closer fight for 11th place but it goes to show that not all the results will pan out.

From this statistical point of view, and all the above considered, Partick Thistle would be favourites for sixth given their advantageous goal difference but Kilmarnock, Ross County and Dundee will push them all the way.

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No home advantage when Killie play Accies

Kilmarnock v Hamilton Academical – Match by numbers

With the winter break now over, the Premiership sides are back in action this weekend as they enter the Scottish Cup. The fourth round offers a welcome distraction from the league for some teams as 10th and 11th in the Premiership go head-to-head at Rugby Park.

5-This is the eighth time the teams have been drawn to face each other in the Scottish Cup and the fourth at Rugby Park. Killie have won five of the previous seven ties by an aggregate of 18-11. The only time the teams needed a replay came after a 2-2 second round draw in February 1953 at the old Douglas Park. Accies triumphed 2-0 in that match, the second and last time they managed to knock the Ayrshire team out the Cup.

8-In recent times, Hamilton and Kilmarnock have tended to pick up better results away from their artificial home pitches, even if that happens to be at a different artificial pitch. The away side in a Kilmarnock-Hamilton match is unbeaten in the last eight games between the teams, a run that stretches back to December 2014. Alexei Eremenko’s 93rd minute winner fired Allan Johnston’s side to a 1-0 win at Rugby Park. Co-incidentally, this is the only time either side has recorded a home win over the other since they installed their artificial pitches. In the 10 matches on artificial turf, the away side has came out on top six times, with the other three ending 0-0.

53-It will be almost 53 years to the day that Kilmarnock last played Hamilton in a Scottish Cup tie. The sides last met in the second round at Douglas Park in January 1964 with Killie one point clear of eventual champions Rangers at the top of Division One. A total of 9,378 fans watched on as the title chasers overcame Division Two Hamilton 3-1 on their way to the semi-finals where they would bow out to Dundee after a comprehensive 4-0 defeat.

80-This weekend’s match will be the 161st meeting between the teams, and the 80th at Rugby Park. The previous 79 meeting in Ayrshire have generally been successful for Kilmarnock as they have recorded 47 wins in that period and out-scoring their Lanarkshire opponents by 158 goals to 71. Accies have won just 15 times at Rugby Park with the other 17 ending in draws. The biggest win in that time came in the second meeting when Killie ran riot as they beat Accies 7-1 for the second time in a week way back in December 1898.