Winners and losers in Scottish football this week

Alim Ozturk celebrates after scoring for Hearts. Picture: SNS

Alim Ozturk celebrates after scoring for Hearts. Picture: SNS

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BEFORE the excitement of the weekend’s football comes around once more, Craig Fowler and Craig Cairns of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast look back over the past six days and select the winners and losers.

THE WINNERS

John Guidetti (Celtic)

Highlight: Netted four goals in two games

He’s quickly becoming a regular in this section. His hat-trick on Wednesday took him to eight goals in eight games, but you feel that Celtic will be the losers if he continues in this vein as they will struggle to keep him. He’s out of contract in the summer which means teams will be free to speak to him in January. They have to get him signed up before that happens. £5 million - the transfer fee slapped on his head by Manchester City - is a massively inflated price for a player with an expiring deal. However, Guidetti is good enough that it will still look like a great piece of business a few years down the line. He’s still only 22. CC

Darren McGregor (Rangers)

Highlight: Played his part in consecutive Rangers clean sheets

He really wasn’t fancied much coming into the season, and even less so when he was shunted out to right back, but since starting in the centre in place of Bilel Mohsni, he’s been excellent. His quickness compensates the lack of pace of Lee McCulloch, while he’s proven to be much more solid and reliable than either Mohsni or Marius Zaliukas. The Rangers fans love his underdog story since he’s battled back from two serious knee injuries. CF

Alim Ozturk (Hearts)

Highlight: Scored one of the greatest Edinburgh derby goals of all time

What a goal! The consensus among the Hearts support seems to be that he has been trying this week-in-week-out, including in training, but has been wildly inaccurate with most of them. It’s the law of the Edinburgh derby that he saved it for an injury-time equaliser against Hibs.

Aside from the strike it could be argued he was Hearts best player on Sunday. There have been questions marks surrounding his concentration, but it should be remembered he’s one of the few Hearts signings this summer to have never played in Britain before - Soufian El Hassnaoui and the little used Miguel Pallardo being the others. It’s only natural it should take him longer to settle in. CC

Scott Allan (Hibs)

Highlight: Two man of the match worthy performances within the last seven days

His manager could easily get a loser of the week for having barely played him up until the last couple of weeks. It’s clear the class which marked him out as a sparkling Scottish prospect is still there. Terrific skill, excellent passing and physically he’s not too bad either. Excellent on Sunday and followed it up with an even better performance against Dundee United. CF

Ash Taylor (Aberdeen)

Highlight: Big improvement in his game the last seven days

He’s faced much criticism since he signed, deservedly so, but he helped Aberdeen to their first clean sheet in five matches at the weekend and to another on Wednesday night. His performance against Hamilton Accies was described by Richard Gordon as the best he’s seen him play. This could have been helped by a more pragmatic approach from his manager, who’s gone back to the more defensively robust 4-2-3-1 of last season, giving him more protection. CC

John Souttar (Dundee United)

Highlight: Made a return from injury to start in Dundee United’s penalty shoot-out win over Hibs

Obviously he’s not responsible for United scoring three goals, but it’s not a coincidence United began to look like an attacking, attractive football team once again with him in the line-up. He’s just such a great football player and it allows them to build from the back more effectively. Considering the poor form of Callum Morris in the last couple of weeks Jackie McNamara has to be giving serious contention to giving Souttar an extended run at centre back. CF

THE LOSERS

Soufian El Hassnaoui (Hearts)

Low point: Substituted in the Edinburgh derby after an ineffective 55 minutes

The derby wasn’t the right game for him, especially since it’s clear he’s still getting used to the frenetic pace of this country. Scottish football games are fast in general; Edinburgh derbies are Scottish football games on crack. He seems to have the attributes to turn quickly or provide quick, first-time passes and one-twos. On Sunday he was expected to drop in and provide an extra body in midfield and help scrap against Hibs, who had more bodies in the area. He just isn’t dynamic enough for such a role. CF

Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock)

Low point: Sent off in Kilmarnock’s 2-0 loss at Celtic

He had the decency to admit his mistake and take the blame for the defeat, but you feel that with the run Kilmarnock were on, and the fact that Celtic have struggled after European nights, that they could have got something from the game had they kept eleven players on the field. Killie were playing well up until the incident. In hindsight he should have let Stefan Scepovic have a pop at goal. CC

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United)

Low point: Poor performance at Easter Road after starting from the bench

He was frustrated by Dundee United having none of the ball in the 1-0 defeat to Inverness and it’s possible he became a bit stroppy after being dropped to the bench for the Hibs game. Even though the game was much more wide open than United have been used to lately, he still performed very poorly despite having 100 minutes (after replacing Gary Mackay-Steven) to impose himself. And remember this was the same ground where he utterly dominated the opposing centre backs in a Friday night football game last season. He should have been raring to go. CF

John Sutton (Motherwell)

Low point: Ineffective in Motherwell’s 1-0 loss to Aberdeen

At times he looked unwilling to close down the Aberdeen defenders last Friday and, especially when your team is playing that badly and you, as a striker, are not scoring goals, you really need to be trying harder than that.

Sutton is a goalscorer and no much else: poor pace, average in the air, struggles to hold the ball up, little mobility. He’s not missing chances, his teammates aren’t creating for them, but until Stuart McCall can figure out how to fix that problem he needs to come out of the starting XI. CC

• Visit The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast website for an alternative look at the beautiful game. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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