Football Expert & Columnist
Dundee will struggle to win Sunday's derby with United, says Andy Walker
Dundee will have their work cut out to claim victory in Sunday's derby with United, says Andy Walker.
Last Updated: 03/12/12 4:27pm
Our live SPL clash this week takes us to Tayside where Dundee have the perfect opportunity to show they're not out of their depth in Scotland's top-flight when they host city rivals United in the second derby of the season on Sunday.
At Tannadice in August, Peter Houston's men were comfortable 3-0 winners in the first Dundee derby for seven years - it threw up a fabulous atmosphere - and it's fair to say that it's taken Barry Smith and his men some time to cope with the demands of life in the top-flight.
Winning just 11 points from 15 games has left Dundee adrift at the foot of the table but nothing would give the home side a bigger boost in their quest for survival than a victory over their greatest rivals.
Granted, Dundee had a very short time to prepare for life in the SPL after Rangers were placed in the third Division and the harsh reality is they've had to learn quickly that it can be an unforgiving league.
They'll remember they started at Tannadice really well but couldn't maintain that form and were soundly beaten in the end. It's always a sore one for the fans to take when the margin of victory is so great and revenge will be on the players' minds.
Rab Douglas, Matt Lockwood and Colin Nish provide the type of experience that Barry Smith relies on for big performances but he needs to see more from Kevin McBride and Ryan Conroy.
Having seen United play recently, Dundee will be well aware that their bitter rivals have a questionable attitude in how they've started recent games.
Speaking to Peter Houston last week after seeing his men lose two goals in the opening 10 minutes of a 2-1 home defeat to Motherwell, he couldn't understand why his side kept giving the opposition a goal of a start.
In four of their previous five games they had gone behind and had made life so difficult for themselves.
In his words, it had gone "beyond a joke" and they certainly had a better attitude when they beat Stranraer 5-0 away from home in the Scottish Cup last weekend.
Dundee are also through after their away success at Livingston but more importantly, Barry Smith's men kept a clean sheet.
With Jon Daly and Johnny Russell in attack, United have a potent threat and even allowing for their bizarre habit of conceding the first goal, they do have a greater number of options from middle to front.
Gary Mackay-Steven will be missing through injury but John Rankin & Stuart Armstrong have the energy to constantly get up in support of their strikers.
My guess is that United's greater experience of big games will see them come out on top once again.