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Thursday 3rd August 2017

Ladbrokes Premiership 17/18 preview

The 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership kicks off this weekend, with Celtic favourites to retain their crown and Hibernian making their top-flight return.

The 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership kicks off this weekend, with Celtic favourites to retain their crown and Hibernian making their top-flight return.

Aberdeen were runners-up last season while Pedro Caixinha has made big changes to the Rangers squad and Hearts are looking for a new manager.

Manager: Derek McInnes
Title odds: 16/1
First two games:  Hamilton Accies (H), Ross County (A)
Runners-up to Celtic in three competitions last season and have lost winger Jonny Hayes to the champions, with Niall McGinn moving to South Korea, but Dons boss Derek McInnes looks to have recruited well, with Greg Tansey (Inverness Caley Thistle), Ryan Christie (Celtic, loan), Greg Stewart (Birmingham City, loan), Nicky Maynard (MK Dons), Gary Mackay-Steven (Celtic) and Kari Arnason (Omonia Nicosia) all arriving at Pittodrie for 2017/18.

Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Title odds: 1/10
First two games:  Hearts (H), Partick Thistle (A)
Celtic swept to a historic unbeaten domestic treble last season, scoring 106 goals and amassing 106 Premiership points in Brendan Rodgers’ first year in charge. They are odds-on with the bookies to make it seven titles in a row and have a similar squad to last season. Winger Patrick Roberts has returned to Manchester City but Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen), Kundai Benyu (Ipswich Town) and Olivier Ntcham (Manchester City) have checked in at Parkhead during the summer.

Manager: Neil McCann
Title odds: 500/1
First two games:  Ross County (H), Hamilton Accies (A)
Neil McCann steered Dundee to safety after replacing Paul Hartley and has since been confirmed as manager. Good start to the season in the Betfred Cup, with another derby match to look forward to on Wednesday. On-loan Celtic midfielder Scott Allan could be a key addition and new striker Sofien Moussa bagged five goals in the Betfred Cup. Also signed are Roarie Deacon (Sutton United), Lewis Spence (Dunfermline Athletic), Randy Wolters (Go Ahead Eagles), Jack Hendry (Wigan Athletic), Glen Kamara (Arsenal) and Elliot Parish (Accrington Stanley)

Hamilton Academical
Manager: Martin Canning
Title odds: 1,000/1
First two games:  Aberdeen (A), Dundee (H)
Retained their Premiership status with a 1-0 aggregate win over Dundee United in the play-off final and continue to punch above their weight. Reached the last 16 of the Betfred Cup and will welcome Aberdeen to the SuperSeal Stadium on Wednesday, three days after the sides clash at Pittodrie. It’s been a quiet summer on the transfer front, with only Xavier Tomas (Lausanne) and Ryan Fulton (Liverpool) added to the squad so far.

Heart of Midlothian
Manager: Jon Daly (interim)
Title odds: 100/1
First two games:  Celtic (A), Kilmarnock (A)
Hearts could only finish fifth last season and parted company with head coach Ian Cathro earlier this week after failing to progress in the Betfred Cup. Jon Daly is in interim charge of the side, who have four away games on the trot before they are due to welcome Aberdeen in front of the new main stand on September 9. Of the seven new signings, Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town) has returned for a second spell and Kyle Lafferty has been snapped up from Norwich City.

Manager: Neil Lennon
Title odds: 150/1
First two games:  Partick Thistle (H), Rangers (A)
Hibs made it back to the top flight at the third time of asking, finishing 11 points clear of Falkirk under the guidance of Neil Lennon. Top scorer Jason Cummings has joined Nottingham Forest but Anthony Stokes is back at Easter Road and creative force Danny Swanson moves from St Johnstone. Steven Whittaker has been snapped up from Norwich City, Simon Murray arrives from Dundee United and both Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Ofir Marciano (FC Ashdod) have signed permanent deals after previous loan spells.

Manager: Lee McCulloch
Title odds: 500/1
First two games:  St Johnstone (H), Hearts (H)
Lee McCulloch kept Killie clear of the relegation zone following the trauma of the ultimately successful play-off with Falkirk a year earlier. Lost their opening game to Ayr in the Betfred Cup but recovered to set up a last-16 trip to holders Celtic. Lots of transfer activity this summer, with Alan Power (Lincoln City), Stephen O'Donnell (Luton Town), Kirk Broadfoot (Rotherham United), Dom Thomas (Motherwell), Chris Burke (Ross County), Lee Erwin (Leeds United) and Gordon Greer (Blackburn Rovers) among the new recruits.

Manager: Stephen Robinson
Title odds: 500/1
First two games:  Rangers (H), St Johnstone (A)
It was too close for comfort for Motherwell at times last season but Stephen Robinson – who took over from Mark McGhee – guided the Steelmen to ninth place in the Premiership. Striker Scott McDonald has joined Dundee United but there have been several new additions at Fir Park, including Alex Fisher (Inverness CT), Gael Bigirimana (Coventry City), Craig Tanner (Reading), Trevor Carson (Hartlepool United), Charles Dunne (Oldham Athletic), Cedric Kipre (Leicester City) and Ellis Plummer (Manchester City).

Partick Thistle
Manager: Alan Archibald
Title odds: 750/1
First two games:  Hibernian (A), Celtic (H)
Jags boss Alan Archibald did an outstanding job as Thistle earned a top-six place in the Premiership for the first time since the split was introduced in 2000/01. Repeating the feat might be a challenge but it’s one the Jags will relish and they are through to play St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup second round. Four new additions this summer: Blair Spittal (Dundee United), Jamie Sneddon (Cowdenbeath), Niall Keown (Reading) and Jordan Turnbull (Coventry City, loan).

Manager: Pedro Caixinha
Title odds: 8/1
First two games:  Motherwell (A), Hibernian (H)
Rangers are looking to improve on a third-place finish last time out and Pedro Caixinha – who took over from Mark Warburton during the campaign – has revamped his squad, bringing in nine new players, including Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack, Portugal international defender Bruno Alves, Scotland midfielder Graham Dorrans from Norwich City and striker Alfredo Morelos from HJK Helsinki. The September 23 visit to Celtic is a key game in the early part of the season.

Ross County
Manager: Jim McIntyre
Title odds: 500/1
First two games:  Dundee (A), Aberdeen (H)
The Staggies finished the season strongly to claim seventh spot in the Premiership but have lost top scorer Liam Boyce to Burton Albion. Jim McIntyre has signed Sean Kelly (AFC Wimbledon), Jamie Lindsay (Celtic, loan), Thomas Mikkelsen (Odense), Jim O'Brien (Shrewsbury Town) and Billy Mckay (Wigan Athletic). County made progress in the Betfred Cup as runners-up to Hibernian and host Motherwell in the last 16 on Wednesday.

St Johnstone
Manager: Tommy Wright
Title odds: 250/1
First two games:  Kilmarnock (A), Motherwell (H)
The 2016/17 season was another impressive one for the Perth club under Tommy Wright as they claimed fourth spot and a Europa League qualifying berth, although there was disappointment against FK Trakai last month. Their latest signing is winger Michael O’Halloran, who returns to McDiarmid Park on loan from Rangers, while Kyle McClean (Nottingham Forest), Stefan Scougall (Sheffield United) and Scott Tanser (Port Vale) have also been brought in as Saints seek another top-six finish.