Scottish Premiership Picks: Up and down Dons, Carson clean sheets & Levein back at Hearts

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The Premiership resumes after yet another Scotland party...

Ross County have had a change of manager and Livingston have had time to stew over dropping to the bottom of the pile.

St Mirren are being reeled in by the pack after picking up one point from their past three matches and Motherwell have not won a game since early September.

Here are just some of the things to look out for this weekend.

Game of the weekend - Aberdeen v Rangers (Sun, 12:00)

Philippe Clement is looking to become only the fourth Rangers manager to win his first five top-flight games - after Bill Struth in 1920, David White in 1967 and Giovanni van Bronckhorst in 2021.

The Belgian has hardly put a foot wrong since arriving at Ibrox but this could be his sternest test, given Aberdeen have won two of the past three league meetings with Rangers.

We say could, because nobody is too sure which version of the Dons will show up from week to week.

Will it be the team that went down with a whimper at Rugby Park before sweeping Motherwell aside at Fir Park, or the one which found a way to win ugly with 10 men in a semi-final against Hibs? Will it be gutsy like the 2-2 draw away to PAOK in the Conference League, or sloppy like the 3-2 home loss to the same opponents?

Manager Barry Robson tried to park the bus at Celtic Park last time out and Aberdeen were thrashed 6-0, shipping three added-time goals.

Following a run of six games in 18 days, the Dons should be refreshed after the international break, while Rangers dealt with the same schedule more successfully.

Rangers were beaten 2-0 at Pittodrie in April and have not lost back-to-back away league games in the north east since February 2006.

A wretched 3-1 loss to Aberdeen at Ibrox in September opened the vacancy for Clement and the Reds will be seeking successive successes against the Blues for the first time since September 1993.

Robson really needs a response after the capitulation at Celtic, but Rangers must build up a head of steam to ensure they keep leaders Celtic in their sights.

Player to watch - Trevor Carson (Dundee)

Dundee goalkeeper Trevor Carson
Can Trevor Carson add to his tally of clean sheets at home to Hibs?

Dundee have done a grand job since returning to the Premiership, losing just three of their 12 games and sitting level on points with fourth-place Hearts.

Much of that success has been built on a mean defence, with only Rangers (eight) and Celtic (seven) keeping more clean sheets than their six. Five of those blanks have come in their past six league outings.

Trevor Carson has proved a shrewd signing, with the 35-year-old goalkeeper turning in some outstanding displays.

Hibs visit Dens Park on Saturday and they found Carson in inspired form during a goalless draw at Easter Road in late September.

Manager in focus - Craig Levein (St Johnstone)

Craig Levein is back on familiar turf this week as he takes St Johnstone to Tynecastle, where he served Hearts for so long as a player, manager and director of football.

The 59-year-old's second stint in charge of the Edinburgh club ended in October 2019 after a loss to the Saints.

Hearts fans were calling for his head that evening in Perth but he should get a friendly reception this time round.

Levein, who has lifted St Johnstone off the foot of the table with a draw and a win at home so far, was last in the away dugout against his former side in a goalless draw with Dundee United in December 2009.

Saints have not won away in the league since May and have lost seven of their past eight top-flight visits to Gorgie.

If Levein improves on that dire record, any warm welcome will soon turn frosty and he might just revel in that given the podcaster's pantomime villain persona.

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