Friday 4th August, 2017 at 5:20pm
With qualification for the next round of the Betfred Cup safely secured it is time to turn the focus towards the opening match of the Ladbrokes Premiership as Thistle travel through to the capital for a tough curtain raiser against newly promoted Hibernian.
Looking forward to the match Jags boss, Alan Archibald, spoke of the excitement in the camp ahead of the new campaign starting.
“I think there is a real buzz about the new season and the players are all really looking forward to it. The Betfred Cup is a great way to get back into the swing of things but I think everyone really looks forward to that first weekend of league action – it’s a real showcase.
“What the Betfred Cup does do is it gives us a chance to blow away the cobwebs so that we are right on it for the first league matches. We needed to win those group stage matches though and it certainly wasn’t easy, as you saw with our opening day draw against Livingston.”
With Hibs, Celtic, two trips to St Johnstone and the visit of Aberdeen all in the opening month of the campaign Thistle have among the toughest starts of anyone in the league but this isn’t something that phases the Maryhill gaffer.
“We’ve got a tough start and we know that but we also know we’ve got to play them all at some point and so does everyone else. Having said that places like Easter Road are great stadiums to go and play in and the players all relish that.
“I was lucky enough to take in an Edinburgh derby last season as it was shortly before we played Hearts and the atmosphere was superb. I think because Hibs have been out of the league for a while you forget the atmosphere and the players have to embrace that. It’s going to be pretty much a sell-out I think and the players have to embrace that and use it to our advantage.
“I think most people will be expecting them to come out of the traps really strong but we’ve been stressing to the players that they’re an established Premiership side now and don’t have anything to fear. Yes Hibs have strong players but we’ve been playing at this level for a good amount of time now and we have to know that we have the quality to go and match up.
“If we can turn the fans against them then great but we know Saturday will be about us showing our quality and we’ll need to do that if we want to get a result.”
Archibald will be looking for a better start than he had last season as, after an opening day win, his side went nine matches without a victory.
“We had a poor start to the league last term and it makes it so much harder later in the season. We definitely want to avoid being in that situation again this term and that means getting off to a strong start despite the difficult run of fixtures.
“The more points we can get at this stage of the season – especially away from home – the better. Hopefully we can then take that form into our home games and build a really solid start to the season. Everyone knows that Hibs coming back up brings another big budget into the league and now we need to show that we have the strength to compete at this level.”
In sharp contrast to the trials and tribulations Archie had with injuries in the early stages of the season his list of available players is looking much healthier ahead of the trip to Leith.
“Yep, we’re pretty much at full strength now, the only absentees through injury will be Mustapha Dumbuya and Gary Fraser although Ryan Edwards is suspended for the game having picked up a sixth yellow card in the last game of last season.”
Jagzone members will also be able to watch extended highlights of the game.
Can’t make it to Easter Road? Jagzone members can listen to live audio commentary of the match. JagZoneLIVE begins at 2:30pm on Saturday.
For a full list of all the great content you can access from just £5.99 per month as a Jagzone member, click here.
Alan has committed, will you join him? 2017/18 season tickets are still on sale.
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