John Lundstram (Rangers)
It’s starting to look a distinct possibility many were too disparaging about Lundstram early in his Ibrox career as the midfielder looks now to be finding his feet. Against Dundee on Saturday he was one of the few stand-outs in an otherwise unconvincing performance from the reigning champions. In fairness to the 27-year-old and his early-season struggles, he looks much more comfortable as the deep-lying No.6 in the Rangers 4-3-3 than he was pushed further forward. Either way, suggestions he could be this campaign’s Shane Duffy – as in a signing with loads of EPL pedigree who ends up being a disaster – appear well wide of the mark.
Cameron Devlin (Hearts)
The Australian was given his first start in a Hearts jersey and earned the man-of-the-match award along with a standing ovation at full-time by a besotted Tynecastle support. It’s only one game, but his showing in the 3-0 win over Livingston was enough to suggest he’s already usurped Peter Haring as the preferred partner to the perennially excellent Beni Baningime. He brings Haring’s battling qualities and enthusiasm for getting up and down the field, but is a much more dynamic option and was able to help smother the visitors to Gorgie on Saturday.
Tony Watt (Motherwell)
The forward has continued his excellent form in the early part of this campaign, putting in a man-of-the-match showing against Ross County even before he fired in an 80th-minute winner. His performances have drawn attention of the wider media with suggestions he could be ready to return to the international set-up after his one cap in 2016. It may sound a little reactionary, but he’s certainly been in better form than either Kevin Nisbet or Lawrence Shankland of late. A call is something worth considering for Scotland boss Steve Clarke ahead of the upcoming international double-header.
Curtis Main (St Mirren)
Main had several reasons to be delighted with his winning goal in St Mirren’s victory over Aberdeen on Sunday: it earned the Buddies their first league victory of the campaign; it was his first Premiership goal for his new club; it was his first goal after an eight-game drought, and, to top it off, it came against his former club. Main may not have any hard feelings towards the Dons, as illustrated by his respectful non-celebration following his ultra-deft flick of a Marcus Fraser cross (which Main insists he definitely got a touch on, even if it’s inconclusive from the replays), but it still must have been nice to silence those supporters who weren’t exactly enamoured with him during his spell at Pittodrie.
Albian Ajeti (Celtic)
Ajeti’s flagging Celtic Park career looked to have been re-energised when the striker found himself back in the starting XI following the sale of Odsonne Edouard, an injury to Kyogo Furuhashi and new signing Giorgos Giakoumakis struggling to get up to speed following his move. Ajeti netted a double against Ross County and then led the line impressively, including bagging the opening goal, in the 3-2 defeat to Real Betis.
Since then his performances have been more anaemic than the last, including Sunday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Dundee United. The Swiss striker missed two glorious chances and didn’t contribute anywhere near enough in general, making just three passes in the opposition half all game. Time is running out for the 24-year-old to show he’s worth persevering with long term.
Leigh Griffiths (Dundee)
It’s been another headline-strewn week in the tumultuous career of the best goalscorer Scotland have produced this generation. Griffiths’ apology for booting a flare into a stand full of St Johnstone fans, in which he claimed the act was an error and he was merely trying to remove the pyrotechnic from the field of play, was frankly hilarious, but it likely won’t save him from a ban from the Scottish FA. This act of petulance during the Premier Sports Cup encounter was soon followed by the striker being forced off through injury during Dundee’s 1-0 defeat against Rangers, much to the glee of the travelling support who mercilessly taunted the ex-Celtic hitman.
Partick Thistle’s defence
After making their way out of League One at the first time of asking, Ian McCall’s Thistle side looked capable of making an assault on the second-tier crown with impressive early-season form. While they remain just a point off the play-offs, any hopes of an unexpected title race are already out of the window following this weekend’s 3-2 loss at Raith Rovers, their third in succession and fourth in their last five games, which leaves them already ten points off Inverness CT at the top of the table.
The biggest problem is undoubtedly a lack of solidity in defence as they currently sit with the Championship’s second-worst record. Supporters are questioning the strength of the centre-backs, the use of 36-year-old Richard Foster at left-back and McCall’s insistence on playing an auxiliary central defender on the right.
Being in a lower division after almost three decades in the top flight is a rubbish state of affairs for any supporters’ base. One can always console oneself with the novelty of attending unfamiliar grounds and winning most weeks with a degree of panache. Unfortunately for the Rugby Park faithful, they look like they’re going to be without the final piece of that consolation prize for much of this campaign.
The Rugby Park outfit continue to pick up points and, given Arbroath’s form, a point from a trip to Gayfield should not be sniffed at, but the 2021/22 campaign looks like it’s going to be a slog whether or not they manage to eventually topple Inverness CT. Friday’s 0-0 draw means it’s now just eight goals in seven matches for Tommy Wright’s second-place unit. It’s acceptable for the time being, but discontent will grow the longer they spend away from the league’s summit.