After the fixture list was announced by the SPFL earlier today, we look at nine of the most keenly anticipated matches in the new Ladbrokes Premiership season.
Aberdeen v Rangers (Sunday 5 August)
It’s Steven Gerrard’s first game as Rangers manager. It’s a battle between second and third in the Ladbrokes Premiership. It’s two rivals and on the opening weekend of the season, meaning there should be a full house. And it’s on the tele. This is a cracker to herald the beginning of a new Ladbrokes Premiership season.
Hearts v Celtic (Saturday 11 August)
Always a fiery contest, this one has a little added spice with Hearts having stopped Celtic’s 69-game unbeaten run last season. Brendan Rodgers and his side enacted some revenge with consecutive 3-1 wins, but it should still be an early test for the runaway favourites for the league title. It will also be an opportunity to have a closer look at the revamped Hearts team.
St Johnstone v Dundee (Saturday 25 August)
Tommy Wright v Neil McCann. Between the third and fourth meetings between the sides last season, McCann made it known in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t happy with his opposing manager following a bust-up the Dundee boss had with Saints keeper Zander Clark. Things could get prickly once again.
Celtic v Rangers (Saturday 1 September)
Brendan Rodgers v Steven Gerrard. It’s the first Old Firm contest of the season. Love it or loathe it, it’s the most high profile game in Scottish football. While interest in the game from abroad is often overstated, the ex-Liverpool connection should stir interest around the globe.
Hearts v Hibs (Wednesday 31 October)
We’re having to wait a while for the first Edinburgh derby, but it should be another terrific spectacle under the lights at Tynecastle. The fact that it’s on Halloween also should add a little bit of irreverence to proceedings. Look out for supporters dressed in superhero costumes hurling abuse at each other.
Hibs v St Mirren (Wednesday 5 December)
For the first time since leading Hibs to their first Scottish Cup win in 114 years, and becoming a club legend in the process, Alan Stubbs returns to Easter Road with another team. The ex-boss is often mooted as a ready made replacement should Neil Lennon decide to quit, so there’s also that little subplot to add to proceedings.
Rangers v Hibs (Boxing Day)
There have been some epic battles between the sides over the past three seasons, including the 5-5 draw to conclude the 2017/18 campaign, and the 2016 Scottish Cup final. Rangers had a dreadful record at Ibrox last term with Hibs twice winning in Govan. Getting three points regularly from his home games is imperative for Gerrard to enjoy success.
Rangers v Celtic (Saturday 29 December)
Speaking of home games that Gerrard must win... it’s currently 11 games without a victory for the Light Blues against their greatest rivals, a number which is likely to rise before the pre-New Year encounter with Celtic holding home-field advantage in the first meeting. The Liverpool legend doesn’t necessarily have to win the league to silence his critics, but he must at least gain one victory over Rodgers’ side and show the gap is closing.
Livingston v Hamilton (Wednesday 3 April)
These are the two sides tipped to battle against automatic relegation and with this fixture coming just three rounds before the split, it could go a long way to deciding who props up the table.