Scottish football has plenty of attractive traits – being predictably unpredictable just one of them.
Yet, with the final five fixtures now laid out in front of each of the Scottish Premiership’s 12 teams, fans will already be comparing run-ins, consulting calendars and pondering permutations to see who the winners and losers will be come May.
But, while supporters will be following hunches, BBC Scotland has turned to sport analysis expert Nielsen Gracenote to try to predict what will unfold over five enthralling fixtures cards.
- Scottish Premiership stats, team news & selectors
Title race? What title race?
As far as weeks go, Rangers haven’t had many better.
A Scottish Cup final spot has been booked courtesy of an Old Firm victory – and that’s before you celebrate reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Yet, according to figures from Gracenote head of analysis Simon Gleave, rivals Celtic have a 94% shot at regaining the Scottish Premiership title.
The firm’s Euro Club Index has Rangers ranked Scotland’s highest club above Ange Postecoglou’s men due to their Europa exploits, but the statistical analysis shows the domestic tide turned after the new year.
The Ibrox side had a 75% chance of retaining their crown until a 3-3 draw with Ross County in January and a 3-0 Parkhead defeat swung the momentum.
With 15 points to play for and a gap of six points – and a hefty goal difference deficit – can Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side defy the odds?
Dundee manager Mark McGhee may be going about turning off his radiators in the name of saving his side’s season – or perhaps he just wants to reduce his gas bill? – but according to Nielsen Gracenote, his side could already be out in the Premiership cold.
The Dark Blues are five points adrift of Saturday’s opponents, St Johnstone, and have a 93% chance of remaining there until the end of the season.
Callum Davidson’s Saints, meanwhile, have a 7% shot at finishing bottom and 79% chance of being in a relegation play-off spot.
That will provide some reassurance to supporters of Aberdeen and St Mirren, whose sides have stuttered to an anti-climactic bottom-six finish. The former is given a 3% chance of slipping into that play-off, with Stephen Robinson’s Buddies a slender 9%.
Aberdeen will just be looking for this season to end without incident. Having started the season the fourth-highest ranked Scottish club in the Euro Club Index, they’ve now dropped 98 places so far to 324th on the continent.
On song for Europe?
Five games, three clubs, two European spots.
Dundee United, who are currently a point ahead of Ross County and Motherwell, are unsurprisingly favourites to bag a jaunt somewhere on Europa Conference League qualifying this summer.
Tam Courts’ side, who have gone up 40 places in the Euro Club Index to 367th, have a 48% shot at fourth, a 32% tilt at fifth and just a 20% chance of staying at home doing the garden.
County’s figures are 29%, 37% and 34% respectively, while Graham Alexander’s team’s chances are stacked slightly less at 22%, 32%, 46%.
The Fir Park outfit have won just one league game since 26 December and face trips away to both their European rivals. Could that prove costly?
And what about everyone else…?
It must be great being a Hearts fan. In the Scottish Cup final, guaranteed third in the league, as well as some sort of European football to Christmas. Scenes.
It’s no surprise then that they have jumped up 100 places in the Euro Club Index to 271st, their highest ranking for 10 years.
Managerless Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, meanwhile, are now 30 spots adrift of the Gorgie side despite starting 119 slots ahead at the start of what’s proven to be a tumultuous campaign. A 43% chance of finishing seventh is the glimmer of light Hibs fans are squinting to try to see.
Livingston, pipped to the top six by Motherwell in the dying seconds two weeks ago, have a 28% shot at either seventh or eighth, while a slip into relegation play-off territory sits at 2%. Phew.
Scottish Premiership table
How will this season’s Scottish Premiership finish? Rank all 12 teams, then share.