Scottish Cup final to be close

  • By: Gareth Friel
  • Last Updated: May 17 2014, 15:13 BST

Our Gareth Friel expects a tight game in Saturday's Scottish Cup final between Dundee United and St Johnstone.

Stuart Armstrong: Too big at 5/1 to score another Scottish Cup goal
Stuart Armstrong: Too big at 5/1 to score another Scottish Cup goal

When the Scottish Premiership split into two groups of six last month, most of the attention centred on the bottom half of the table.

In the top six, the focus was on the race for second place between Aberdeen and Motherwell.

That allowed Dundee United and St Johnstone to prepare for this Saturday's Scottish Cup final at Celtic Park (kick-off 1500 BST), somewhat under the radar.

It also helps explain why both teams won just one of their post-split matches having headed into their last five games in good form.

Saints boss Tommy Wright was nominated for PFA Manager of the Year for guiding the club to sixth in the Premiership, reaching the League Cup semi-finals and, of course, the first Scottish Cup final in St Johnstone's history.

Wright's men were tipped up by this column in our outright preview back in November, having entered the competition at 20/1. Given their cup pedigree over the years, it may come as a surprise to some that this will be their first Scottish Cup final.

Their opponents and Tayside rivals United won this competition in 2010 and are looking for their third success. They defeated three fellow Premiership sides and Rangers to reach the showpiece final in Glasgow.

The Perth-based Saints had a simpler run to the final, seeing off Livingston, Forfar and Raith before a superb semi-final victory against League Cup winners Aberdeen.

Just five points separated the sides in the Premiership and three of the four league meetings finished level so there's not much between them.

A key player in United's season overall and in their run to the final has been Stuart Armstrong.

The midfielder has 11 goals to his name for the season including strikes against Kilmarnock, Inverness and Rangers in previous rounds.

This could be a very cagey match but United are such an attacking side that the likes of Armstrong should get chances breaking from midfield.

He is 5/1 to score at anytime which looks a wee bit big.

As already mentioned, there's very little between these sides. It's hard to predict which way this one will go.

Neither side has played particularly well recently, but the last few weeks have all been geared towards this match.

As much as United have been attacking and free-scoring at times this season, this game could be similar to the League Cup final that went all the way to penalties between Aberdeen and Inverness.

It's 12/5 the draw after 90 minutes which, to me, seems worth backing.

  • Posted at 0845 BST on 16/05/2014.