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  1. The SPFL Premiership is well underway now, and two teams who are in the top three will do battle at Ibrox to celebrate the resumption of the Scottish league from the international break. Both sides have enjoyed excellent starts to the season, but there is a heavy favourite to get all three points when Rangers host Livingston. Rangers The international break came at the right time for Rangers after suffering a defeat in the Old Firm match against Celtic. But regardless, it is just one loss in an impressive start to the season, and they can get back on track with a home win against Livingston. Rangers have signed a host of young players over the summer, and the second season could see Steven Gerrard get even closer to bringing a first SPFL title to Ibrox since 2011. However, the Old Firm result has given the fans a clear sign that there is still work to be done on the training ground. Rangers went into the game as the favourites with the bookmakers as they had started the season with three straight wins, and also reached the group stages of the Europa League after a last-gasp winner from Alfredo Morelos against Legia Warsaw. However, the Rangers dominance we’re all hoping to see isn’t there just yet. Goals from Odsonne Edouard and Jonny Haynes did all the damage, while a late red card to Jordan Jones once again showed a lack of discipline from Rangers. Gerrard made a big decision before the game as he started with Jermain Defoe over Morelos; despite the Colombian already scoring ten goals in 12 appearances this season. The decision backfired as Defoe didn’t offer the same movement in the forward positions as Morelos, but Gerrard stated that his decision was as much about Morelos’ discipline as it was tactical. Prior to the Old Firm result, Rangers had won three straight league games and averaged three goals per game but that cutting edge in the forward positions was severely lacking in the derby. They have however been boosted since that fixture with the arrival of Ryan Kent from Liverpool in a £7 million deal. The Gers have been fighting to get the deal for the attacker over the line throughout the summer after Kent impressed while on loan at Ibrox last season. He shoould make his second debut for the club against Livingston, and he could make an immediate impact. Livingston It’s only the second season back in the top flight for our West Lothian opponents, but they have already caught the eye this term and currently sit in a somewhat surprising third place in the league table. They are also unbeaten in the league after winning and drawing twice. They have won their last three in all competitions, with their most recent 2-1 success over St Mirren showing that they have undoubted quality in the forward positions. Alan Lithgow and Lyndon Dykes scored the goals for Livingston in this win, and this victory backed up a 4-1 success at Ross County. They have scored eight goals already in this campaign, which means they are averaging two goals per game. The signings of Jon Guthrie and Nicky Devlin, both from Walsall, have also improved the defence since their arrival. They have conceded four goals this season, which is already one less than they had conceded at the same point last season. However, a trip to Rangers will be a true test of how good this Livingston side really is, but it looks unlikely that they will be able to compete with the 'Gers. Head to Head Rangers hold the advantage in the overall record between the sides having won on 18 occasions, while Livingston have only won three matches against the Gers, including the first fixture between the teams this time last year. Gerrard’s side did beat Livingston twice last season; both games ended 3-0. There have also been seven draws between these two sides. Prediction Rangers will know that they can’t have any more slip-ups if they want to mount a serious challenge to Celtic, and their home matches will be particularly important to those chances. Rangers will head into the game as the 1/5 favourites to win the match.
  2. It's been a little over 24 hours since I put together yesterdays preview for last night's game against Legia. Nevertheless, after what was another fine result, I think Rangers fans feel even better than ever and the confidence obtained from the late win should increase morale further amongst the recovery ice baths at Auchenhowie this morning. Yet, as has been the case for the last two summers, doing well in European qualifiers means an extremely tough schedule of games so we'll need to recover quickly for the visit of Celtic in Sunday's top of the table clash. At least we're not travelling back from Russia after playing a game with nine men this time! Our season so far Twelve games played, ten wins, two draws, zero losses, 32 goals scored and only five conceded is impressive form in anyone's book. Sure, the likes of St Joseph's and St Mirren may not be considered Europe's (or even Scotland's) elite but wins over Hibs, Kilmarnock and negotiating the last two European qualifiers have shown Rangers to be a markedly different outfit this season. Yes, we still have that quality in possession but, so far at least, we've added a defensive steel to our game and an ability to find winners in games that we'd have previously dropped points. The worth of late goals in our Premiership opener at Rugby Park and at Ibrox last night cannot be under-estimated and that kind of dogged patience and resilience is essential if success is to be found. Celtic Last year's champions have played the same number of games as us and have a very similar record, losing only one game so far to drop out of the Champions League. They've also scored seven more goals than us but, importantly, have conceded seven more also which shows although they're clearly very dangerous in attack, the additions they've made at the back haven't yet proven their worth. Moreover with their best defender Kristoffer Ajer hobbling off again early in their game last night, Neil Lennon may be forced into further changes at Ibrox on Sunday. Ajer has been playing right back of late so their new loan signing from Stoke, Moritz Bauer may make his debut in favour of Anthony Ralston. It will also be interesting to see if Lennon sticks with Nir Bitton in central defence and Boli Bolingoli at left back. This is a back-line the Rangers attack will want to ask questions of. Further forward, Celtic have many threats of their own. From Edouard and Forrest to Johnston and Christie, there's a strength and mobility to Celtic that will mean if we switch off at all, we will be punished. Quite simply this will be the biggest test of the season so far for our defence and midfield so let's hope for the kind of physically dominant performances we seen at Ibrox last season where we won both games comfortably. Rangers If there was one other important benefit from last night it was the fact we didn't need to play extra-time. After last year's exertions with nine men against Ufa, it was obvious we struggled to match Celtic in a tired display at Parkhead a few days later. As such we started the game overly defensive and lacked sharpness on the ball. With that in mind, Steven Gerrard may be eager to freshen up his team on Sunday. But, given Celtic are the ones returning from a trip to the continent (albeit from a much easier game) then both sides will have players who've already played around a fifth of their expected games this season. With that in mind, will we see a return to the team for the likes of Flanagan, Kamara and Defoe? Might Filip Helander even make his competitive Ibrox debut? How much longer can we persevere with what seems to be a jaded Scott Arfield? Ultimately, we need a good result from Sunday to maintain confidence ahead of a much needed international break. Even a draw wouldn't be a bad outcome but a win would take us top of the table by three points and would represent the perfect start to a season that is going to be long, gruelling and a test of all our characters. In that sense, I think the manager may ask for one last pre-break push from his trusted lieutenants which should mean a familiar look to the Rangers starting XI on Sunday. Once again James Tavernier will be expected to lead from the right hand side and, if his eye cut swelling reduces enough, I suspect Borna Barisic may be favoured over Jon Flanagan at left back. Not only does the Croatian have the pace to deal with the threat of James Forrest, his set-piece ability could be vital again this week. Importantly, despite having to go off last night, he did well against Legia and that trust in him may be repaid on Sunday. In midfield both Ryan Jack and Steven Davis were immense against the Poles so should be certain starters. Joe Aribo was a wee bit quieter last night so, after three straight games for the Nigerian international, Glen Kamara may well be favoured to strengthen our midfield. Similarly Sheyi Ojo never really got going in the Legia match and with Jordan Jones supplying the cross for Morelos' winner, he should get the nod to make his Old Firm debut. Scott Arfield was taken off last night and isn't in the best of form but his experience will see him start as well. Up front is a wee bit trickier to guess but I'd expect Morelos to beat Jermain Defoe to the sole striker's role. Conclusion Old Firm matches are often famously hard to predict. Form doesn't always come into it whilst, although Celtic have had the upper hand in recent years for obvious reasons, last season Rangers were a hugely different proposition and were the better team in three of the matches. With that in mind, Steven Gerrard may well look to fill his team with players who featured in those games. Indeed, with Celtic possibly having more Old Firm debutantes than us on Sunday then that may prove to be an interesting tangent to a annual contest that is full of fascinating nuances around it. Yesterday's article title was 'Mission Possible' where I concluded we should be aiming to win the Legia and Celtic matches. We've completed the first task but now have an even tougher one to address. The destination of the league title is far from known and, hopefully, won't be until well into next year but Sunday's encounter will show us just how capable this new, improved Rangers side is. A carbon copy of the two corresponding games at Ibrox last year would be very much welcomed and a suitable demonstration of a much needed title challenge. It's only Friday but he battle fever is already abound. Possible starting XI (4-3-2-1):
  3. Problems with UEFA and perhaps some grumblings about one or two positions in the team aside, you won't find many unhappy Rangers fans as September approaches. An unbeaten summer programme of games at home and abroad has led us to what will be a key week in how this season (and arguably next) develops. First of all we have the chance to qualify for the Europa League group stage tonight and secure the best part of £10m for the club before taking on Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday with a win there guaranteeing us top position by three points after a tricky selection of league games through August. Two wins and morale will be through the roof but anything less then, as is normal at Rangers, smiles will turn as quickly turn into frowns as the recent summer heat turns into an autumn chill. The First Leg Although Steven Gerrard may well be disappointed with the lack of an away goal from Warsaw last week, he will be pleased with our general play. Legia did create a few reasonable openings but generally were limited to set pieces as their main threat where, by and large, we also coped okay with the Poles. Meanwhile, for much of the game, Rangers kept possession well and also created a few reasonable chances ourselves with Alfredo Morelos missing the best of these late in the game. Suffice to say the manager's prediction that this tie will go down to the wire looks to be correct. However, I'd also contend if you'd said to him that we'd need only win by any score at home then he'd have been happy with that pre-match last week. Legia Our opponents rested the vast majority of their team in their league win over Lodz at the weekend with only 'keeper Majecki and defender Stolarski retaining their place as the came from behind to win 3-2 away from home and retain their own unbeaten start to their season. Manager Aleksandar Vuković will make changes again for tonight's game and despite several bookings in the first leg, is expected to play largely the same XI as week as they seek to emulate their 2-0 away win over Atromitos in the last round. Not to mention their win over Celtic by the same score-line at Murrayfield in 2014. It's fair to say the Poles know how to play on their travels. Let's also hope the Slovenian officials are more aware of their gamesmanship than the French ones last week. Rangers For Steven Gerrard, one has to imagine he will look to keep a similar team to the first leg as well. Although our most expensive signing of the window Filip Helander has done fairly well in his two domestic starts so far, the partnership of Goldson and Katic has been an extremely solid one for Rangers this summer so the Swede may well need to wait until he has full match sharpness before displacing one of the first choice pairing. At full back, Borna Barisic showed he's not always a passive observer with a fine free kick winner in Paisley and it will be interesting to see if he retains his place tonight. Jon Flanagan has proven his defensive usefulness in Europe already this term but with goals a necessity for Rangers tonight, Barisic may well get the nod on the left flank, if not from the start but certainly later in the game. In midfield, we have a host of players we can choose from - both in terms of the deeper three and the more attacking two players. Recalled international midfielder Ryan Jack has arguably been the pick of the bunch and will be a certain starter this evening. The experienced Steven Davis and one of Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara should form the rest of the deeper three. Further forward is less difficult to anticipate. Sheyi Ojo picked up a knock in Warsaw last Thursday but trained fully yesterday so should be available tonight. As such it should be between him, Jordan Jones and perhaps Andy King for one of the positions behind the striker. Scott Arfield will surely occupy another but after 85mins last week and the same again at New Love Street, will the Canadian be better utilised from the bench later in the match? Or might Joe Aribo be pushed into a more attacking position with Glen Kamara retained deeper to provide some defensive insurance? Other options include Greg Stewart, Jake Hastie and Jamie Murphy but it would be a big surprise if they featured. In the lone striker role, neither Morelos or Defoe haven't let us down so far this season so it's a big positive that the manager can select either and pretty much ensure a tough time for opposition defences. It will surely be the Colombian to start tonight though and he'll been keen to make the most of any opportunities a stiff Legia defence may offer. We will have to take any chances that come our way. Conclusion All things considered, it's a fool's errand to try and split these teams. Both are unbeaten in their competitive games this season, both seem strong at the back and both look capable of scoring from open play and at set pieces. Yet with home advantage, Rangers must consider themselves favourites tonight. That's not to say Legia are not a very good team or won't fancy their own chances but if we're to compete with the best Europe has to offer then these are the kind of difficult tests we must pass. A win tonight and again on Sunday is very much mission possible for this Rangers team. It's now time to prove it. Possible Starting XI (4-3-2-1):
  4. Excellent stuff from @Gizmo231 ahead of tomorrow's game. Please click the main site link to support our contributors! https://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/match-analysis/1051-pushing-on-in-paisley-st-mirren-v-rangers After a hard fought game in Warsaw, it's now back to league action for Rangers as they look to make it three wins on the spin in the Ladbrokes Premiership. The side are playing with style both domestically and in Europe, scoring goals and looking hard to break down at the back. But as we all know too well, our season was undone in 2018/19 thanks to below par results against the so-called poorer sides in the league. So with that in mind, let's take a look at where the game with St Mirren could be won and lost on Sunday. Background to Game Rangers are coming into the game on the back of a more than decent result in Europe and one they really could have taken a victory from. Steven Gerrard's men have also had a fair amount of games of late, four in less a fortnight, and come into it match sharp and ready to go with a pool of players big enough to rotate if needed. St Mirren's last outing was against Aberdeen a week past on Sunday, so they will be well-rested and hopefully slightly rusty ahead of the lunchtime kick-off. Head to Head History In 116 meetings over the years, Rangers have won 87 of them which shows the dominance we have over our colleagues in Paisley. In fact, over the past few years we have had plenty of meetings with the Buddies both in the Championship and then in the top flight. We welcomed a then-Alan Stubbs led St Mirren to Ibrox for the first home game of the season and swatted them aside in the first half before going a man down when Ross McCrorie was sent off. We have won five of our last six and drawn the other against St Mirren, scoring 15 goals in the process and that all makes for welcome reading before we travel to face Jim Goodwin's side on Sunday. The Opponent St Mirren had a topsy-turvy campaign last season by all accounts. The disastrous appointment of the aforementioned Stubbs almost cost them their place in the Premiership before it had even really started. Oran Kearney came in and, again, couldn't get the team playing - that was until nearer the end of the campaign when they finally found a bit of form and managed to avoid a dreaded relegation scenario. But it proved to be an utterly bizarre summer and it was almost a will he, won't he situation with Kearney as rumours circulated he would leave. After weeks and with the new season on the horizon, the Northern Irishman did head back to his homeland in what turned out to be a pretty bitter affair as he and chairman Gordon Scott resorted to mud-slinging in the media. Following that bombshell, though, Jim Goodwin took the reigns and has done a decent enough job so far. The former Alloa boss made a great impression at the Indodrill and looks set to continue that in Paisley - especially if they can build on some promising opening performances. Form The Buddies narrowly lost out to Hibs in the opening game of the league season following a disappointing run in the Betfred Cup where they were sent crashing out at the group stage. But they managed to rally following the early setbacks and produced a great performance to beat a sorry Aberdeen team in Paisley. That's why it's key Rangers must respect their opponents this Sunday - they have shown they are capable of providing a shock. Dangerman Kyle Magennis remains a hot prospect for St Mirren and is a shining light in their team. He has skill, pace and eye for goal and he's certainly one to look out for in this Saints side. Rangers As I have said a few times this season, we are a good team. If we turn up and play how we can, we should be beating every team in this league. But this is going to be a good test this weekend because, as mentioned previously in the article, it's the sort of game which, last season, we'd have potentially dropped silly points. As we saw against Kilmarnock, if we drop off in a game we can be punished - but what was also so great about that game was that we found a solution to it. We now have more skill middle to front in terms of breaking teams down in the final third with the likes of Joe Aribo and Sheyi Ojo hitting the ground running. We also have players like Scott Arfield and Jordan Jones who can feed Jermaine Defoe and Alfredo Morelos up top. We are in a good position, with a good squad of players and with a huge week on the horizon, it would be no surprise to see Steven Gerrard shuffle the pack. The likes of Greg Stewart and Jones are the players who should be appearing in these sorts of games this weekend. They are proven Premiership players and should be able to go to St Mirren and put on a show - but for Stewart I'm not convinced he yet has the full trust of the management team to be starting in tough away fixtures. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Andy King handed his first start in the game in a three man midfield with Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo. The likes of Steven Davis and Ryan Jack could perhaps do with a slight rest before next week's double header with Legia Warsaw and then Celtic. I think Gerrard will make changes for the game but the squad depth is such it should have a major impact on the team. Predicted line-up (4-3-3) Predicted score St Mirren 0-2 Rangers
  5. A bit of a wishwash but I was writing between the chores on my wife's list.
  6. Not got time to write a full preview this morning but I'd expect a fair amount of changes to the team but with a few senior players retained to ensure quality and experience can help any newbies. Guys like Polster, Hastie and King may also feature from the bench. Looking forward to what should be another win but it won't be easy on a crap, artificial pitch next to the Forth in such windy conditions. However, that just means extra onus on us to move the ball well and show our quality.
  7. A Point to Prove Intro The surprise loan of Glenn Middleton from Rangers to Hibs appears to signal a thawing in the icy relations between the clubs of late, but there will be little sign of that when the sides go head to head this weekend in a game which both sides will aim to make a springboard for their season. Background to Game Both come into the tie on the back of opening day victories but still very much with a point to prove. After an overwhelmingly positive pre-season, Rangers failed to convince with a laboured victory at Rugby Park which had an all too familiar feel to it. However, Thursday’s fabulous performance in Denmark has gone a long way to quelling those fears and putting the fans at ease again. Hibs had a similar opening day to Rangers when they left it late to grind out a win over a St Mirren side they would have expected to dispatch of comfortably at Easter Road. Head to Head History For a long time Hibs were not a side Rangers had to worry too much about. In 32 games between 1996 and 2005, Hibs recorded only one victory. The return of Walter Smith in 2007 saw this pattern continue with only 2 losses in 20 games. However, since Rangers were demoted Hibs have proven to be a thorn in their side, restricting the Gers to a mere 8 wins in 22 games. This dismal record continued under Steven Gerrard last season as a poor Hibs side were allowed to land a severe blow to Rangers’ title hopes by holding them to three draws, costing the Ibrox men 6 crucial points. However the tide has started to turn and last season was the first season since 2011-12 that Rangers were unbeaten against Hibs and the one-sided games were a sign that the new rivalry between the clubs is not likely to last. The Opponent A change in regime at Hibs mid-season saw Heckingbottom take the reins and rescue their campaign as they embarked on an unlikely 10 game unbeaten run which lifted them from 8th to 5th place. This was the highest possible finish for the Englishman so it was a massive achievement. Lennon had built his house on the sand of loan deals and favours from Celtic and paid the price in his final season when the latter dried up after the John McGinn saga. Lennon was weighed in the balance and found wanting. Heckingbottom has had a summer to re-build and, in a break from the club’s previous strategy, he is building for the future. Lennon’s Hibs were propped up by the short termist strategy of flooding the squad with loan players and in his final season he made seven loan signings. Remarkably, Heckingbottom has made only two loan signings and has preferred to utilise his extensive knowledge and connections south of the border to make 5 permanent signings who are all between the ages of 23 and 26. The signing of Scott Allan had already been agreed before he came in but is very much in keeping with this strategy. Form Having said that, this season’s Hibs squad doesn’t look like the improvement over last season’s that the fans were expecting. The opening day performance was slow, laboured and lacking dynamism. The loss of Martin Boyle to injury was a huge blow in terms of the team’s attacking threat but Heckingbottom and Leanne Dempster were smart to move quickly to smooth things over with Rangers and secure Glenn Middleton on loan to replace him. Middleton has the ability to provide the pace and end product they are lacking but will not feature this weekend so answers will have to be found elsewhere. Dangerman Mallan and Horgan are both players with the ability to create and shoot from distance but the dangerman without doubt is Scott Allan. Rangers know all too well what Allan is capable of and everything Hibs did well against St Mirren went through him and it was no co-incidence that it was he who saved the day with an impressive winner. Rangers Despite Rangers’ midweek heroics, they still come into the game with a point to prove. Last season Hibs were a bogey team and Gerrard will be determined to vanquish any similarities to last season from the off, not least after the Kilmarnock game when the accusations flooded in that nothing has changed. Furthermore, dropping points ahead of the first Old Firm game of the season on the 1st of September is not an option. It is absolutely crucial that Gerrard takes his men into that game with the chance to go 3 points clear and give themselves a lead to defend and maintain from there on. This, more than anything, will signal to the fans and the country that this season is different. The line-up is difficult to predict. Last season the goalkeeper was not rotated but McGregor is a year older and Foderingham rotated in at Rugby Park after the Progres game last week and is likely to do so again on Sunday. The backline was not rotated after Progres but Katic and Flanagan will be conscious of the competition and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barisic and Edmundson start in a home game where we will dominate the ball. Helander didn't make the bench in Jutland and Gerrard has been wise not to throw him in and risk damaging his reputation before he is fit and ready. Davis is likely to return to the three in midfield but Kamara offered the fans a reminder of his quality and class in Denmark and this will surely leave Gerrard with another headache. Arfield will always keep his place unless he is unavailable but Jones can rightly feel under threat in a position with no stand-out player as of yet. The addition of Brandon Barker from Man City is likely to have more to do with opportunism than a feeling that he will significantly improve the team, but it will nevertheless make a few nervous. In any case, Ojo is likely to step in for Jones and this is another example of a position the club now have enough depth in to allow for fresh legs to be brought in after a European game. Defoe will rotate back in after Morelos starred midweek and the option of bringing in a fresh striker after European excursions is brand new to Gerrard and could be a crucial factor in this league campaign. As important a player as Morelos is, he isn't the fittest player in the world and the aerially dominant Darren McGregor will not relish the prospect of facing a fresh and hungry Jermaine Defoe who scores his goals on the deck. Predicted Line-up - 4-3-2-1 Predicted Score - Rangers 2-0 Hibs
  8. The great thing about playing in Europe is that the games come thick and fast. I have just unpacked my bag after returning from Luxenbourg and already League Match day One is upon us. The serious stuff starts today. Not that Europe isn't serious stuff but the league competition is our bread and butter. Europe is a nice juicy apple to bite into but our “Repas Principal” is the league competition. We were all a little bit disappointed with our 0-0 draw against Progrès Niederkorn and really it should have been an easy win given the chances we had. I try and look on the positive side of the performance and for me that was that Niederkorn never looked like they could clench a fist against us. All they did was circle the wagons and try to keep the score at 0-0. It would have been worse if we hadn't created any chances but the fact is we created 4 or five guilt edged chances. To win games we have to learn to take those chances but hopefully once we have a fixed team the goals will come, Today we nick doon the road to Kilmarnock where we have a score to settle from last season. Although we beat them early doors 3-1 in the league cup last season they managed two wins against us at Rugby park in the league. Steve Clark had them playing in a close defensive, well orginised unit who could break at speed and make the best of the chances they got. That style served them well with them taking the third spot on 67 points together with Aberdeen but with six more goals than Aberdeen. Since then they have lost some key players and also Steve Clark their manager who left to fill the Scottish managers job. Or should I say the Celtic select team. They have brought in Angelo Allessio to replace Clark and he has tried to get them playing a different style of football with pretty poor results up to now with them crashing out of Europe by Connah's Quay. After winning the first leg 2-1 away from home they crashed to a 2-0 defeat in their own midden. It will be interesting to see what tactics Allessio will have them playing . Probably back to parking the bus and hoping on a break-away. The Rangers team is hard to predict at the moment as there are so many options open to Stevie Gerrard. I think he will keep Alan McGregor in goals but McGregor has been pretty shaky of late. I have no idea what he was doing on Thursday when he half punched a ball that looked very catchable to me. That threw up Niederkorn's best chance and we are lucky the Niederkorn No. 7 didn't fancy a shot with his right foot and ballooned it over the bar with his left from about eight yards out. Maybe bringing Wes in for a few games will waken McGregor up. Tavernier is a no-brainer for the right-back position. He wasn't great on Thursday but remains one of the best attacking full-back's in Britain. It is well known that I am not a Goldson fan but I don't know Edmundson good enough to know how he will stand up to the Scottish league so I will stay with the evil I know and keep Goldson in beside Katic who is in my opinion the best defender we have at the moment. People say he can't play a ball forward but in the games I watch he plays some excellent forward passes. He is a no-brainer for me. As the team will be announced shortly I will just give my team for today. Foderingham Tavernier Goldson Katic Baracic(if fit) Davis Kamara Docherty Arfield Aribo Morelos. Come on the Gers!!! Revenge is hopefully sweet.
  9. After finally (two years too late) disposing of Progres last week and an exciting, if also late, win over Kilmarnock on Sunday, Rangers return to European action tonight in Denmark. This time we face FC Midtjylland whom are an unknown quantity for most Rangers fans with only former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko familiar to the majority of us. However, the Danes are well experienced in the competition in recent years - even if they've only reached the group stage once, qualifying as well before being knocked out by eventual finalists Liverpool in the last 32 in 2015/16. They've shared the last five league titles with Copenhagen and are joint top with them in the Danish Superliga right now after four league matches. Suffice to say, this is no gimme. Fortunately, Rangers have had a good summer as well so can be confident in the tie. Although we've been less than convincing in our last few competitive games, we can take confidence from knocking out Progres very comfortably and also beating Killie on an awful pitch, despite losing a goal with just ten mins to go. Indeed, given set pieces are one of Midtjylland's biggest strengths, that may be a slight concern ahead of tonight's game in particular. With that in mind, Steven Gerrard's team selection will be interesting, especially in defence. Both Niko Katic and Connor Goldson have been key players in an attacking sense of late but, despite being fairly solid defensively in a general sense, both have had their dodgy moments as well. Goldson, in particular, misjudged the flight of free kick that led to Sunday's equaliser - an error we can ill-afford tonight. With other options such as Edmundson (he was a very late sub on Sunday) and Helander (perhaps still not match fit), it's not beyond the realms of possibility we may see a back three this evening. Full/wing back roles should again be taken by Tavernier and Barisic, even if both have struggled for form in recent weeks. Our midfield balance will also be important this evening, especially after a poor second half contribution from Sunday's selected three. Davis, Jack and Aribo have all done very well through July's friendlies and other qualifiers but none of the three were particularly effective against Kilmarnock. The same can be said for Ojo and Arfield in the attacking roles but the latter should find it easier to find space against the Danes. Ojo may well be replaced by someone like Docherty in favour of his drive and bob-to-box nature of his play. Others such as Glen Kamara, Jordan Jones and Greg Stewart will also be keen to step in if called upon. In attack (and barring any late transfer movement), Alfredo Morelos should lead the line tonight and will been keen to get scoring again if selected. The Colombian lacked decent service for much of the last two games but will hope his experience of the Scandinavian leagues is useful this evening. It's crucial that when we create any chances, we take them as an away goal could be vital in a tie that looks very hard to call. For the winners, a play-off round awaits in either Poland or Greece with the associated essential monies the group stage can yield. Given Rangers' continuing legal issues with restrictive retail deals and our nearest rivals selling players for £25m then such a reward cannot be underestimated. One by one all the hurdles are becoming bigger so let's hope we're all walking with a spring in our step later tonight. Possible XI (4-3-2-1):
  10. Given what happened in Luxembourg two years ago, on the face of it last week's 2-0 home win over tonight's opponents should make Rangers fans feel more comfortable than we did before the 2017 loss. Yet Progrès showed enough defensive character and attacking threat at Ibrox last Thursday to ensure that anything other than a wholly committed and professional display from Rangers could cause us problems again tonight. Steven Gerrard was thus right to say in yesterday's press conference that works need to be done. Sure, as has been the case in most of our games to far this summer, Rangers dominated last week and should have won by more than the two goals we did score. Slackness in attack for the first 60-70mins resulted in good chances being missed whilst being too open in midfield, and with our use of the ball in defensive areas, could have cost us badly if it wasn't for poor finishing from the visitors late on. Once again Allan McGregor showed his worth in one-on-ones to avoid the loss of a crucial away goal. A two goal cushion it is though and that is a nice lead to take to the Grand Duchy. It does mean that Progrès need to be more expansive than they were at Ibrox and that should leave us more space to work with in attacking areas. Even so, I doubt the home side will go all out from kick off and I think the opening period may well be similar to last week's match. Hopefully that will allow us to settle well and allow us to retain possession to make it difficult for the Lux side to get back into the tie. An early goal for us would be a big help as well and would surely kill any threat of lightning striking twice against Progrès. The manager has already confirmed Steven Davis didn't travel so we're one important player down already. Add in a vital league opener at Kilmarnock on Sunday then Gerrard may well be pragmatic in his team selection and tactics tonight. That's not to say key players will be left out - that's very unlikely - but he may well stiffen up the side through the selection of guys like Kamara and Docherty, giving more licence to wide players such as Tav and, possibly Barisic too on the left, to stretch the game on the flanks. Given the impressive summer displays so far the manager certainly has plenty of options at his disposal. Injury aside I'd expect McGregor to start with Tav, Barisic, Goldson and one of Edmundson, Erlander and Katic forming the rest of the back four. It seems fairly clear Connor Goldson remains his first choice central defender with the other three offering excellent depth. Such quality also offers the option of a back three and it might not be beyond the realms of possibility to see that tonight. I'm happy for any of the four to feature. Moving into midfield and with Davis ruled out already that leaves a place up for grabs alongside likely starters Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo. Because we'll be keen to retain possession and use the ball well from deeper areas, we can expect Glen Kamara to retain his place from Sunday's friendly with Derby though we do have the option of using Scott Arfield further back. However, the Canadian's threat in attack with ability to support the striker and score goals himself should see him deployed just behind either Morelos or Defoe. That leaves a choice of several players for the other supporting role and that selection will depend on how confident the manager is. Does he opt for another creative player such as Ojo, Jones or Stewart? Or will he prefer the industry of Greg Docherty to help keep the door shut at the back and offer a box-to-box threat going forward? I suspect the latter but, again, it's good to be less predictable than we were for periods last season. Finally we have the striker role. Jermain Defoe has had a good summer and can be relied upon to find space, make good attacking runs and score goals in most games he plays. For that reason, he's a fine choice any time he plays. Yet, for me, Alfredo Morelos remains our best player and, despite all the transfer speculation, has shown already this season he's still focused on the job at hand. As such I'd be surprised if he didn't start tonight unless the manager wants to keep him fresh for Sunday. All in all, just like two years ago, we travel to Luxembourg as big favourites to win the tie. However, unlike two years ago, we have the experience of knowing Progrès aren't there to make up the numbers and will, at the very least, be well organised and carry a particular threat from set-pieces. We can ignore that at our peril or roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Let's hope it's the latter. Possible XI (4-3-2-1):
  11. On Thursday Rangers get the chance to right a huge wrong when Prógres Niederkorn come to Ibrox. I don't need to tell anyone that they surprisingly put us out of the Europa league at the first Qualifying round two years ago. Prógres had never won a game in Europe and scored just one goal. Even although Rangers only managed a 1-0 win at Ibrox it was unthinkable that a team who had never won in Europe and had only ever scored one goal could put the mighty Glasgow Rangers out of Europe. Niederkorn soaked up Rangers early pressure and gradually started to insert themselves more and going into the second half looked more and more dangerous. Disaster struck for the Gers as Olivier Thill crossed for Francoise to finish at the near post. Shortly after that a Sebastian Thill free kick, crossed in at pace, managed to avoid everybody and the ball ended in the back of the net. Rangers had incarcerated what is judged as their worst ever European result. Pedro Caixinha the Rangers manager stood by a hedge telling Rangers supporters that things would improve but after our worst ever 1-5 home defeat against Celtic and losing to Aberdeen for the first time in 26 years his days were numbered and after more poor results he lasted a total 229 days in the job before he was sacked. He goes down in history as the Rangers manager to last the shortest ever time. This was the Rangers team that day. 1 Foderingham 9 Miller 2 Tavernier 4 Cardoso 8 Jack 18 Rossiter (Substituted for Herrera at 77') 5 Wallace 24 Bates 19 Kranjcar 20 Morelos (Substituted for Dálcio at 45') 21 Candeias (Substituted for Windass at 58') Substitutes 7 Dálcio 11 Windass 15 Herrera 23 Holt 25 Alnwick 33 Waghorn 40 McCrorie Looking at that team only Foderingham, Tavernier, Jack and Morelos are still at the club. Replacing Morelos with Dálcio at half time in retrospect is an "Oh my god" moment. Rangers are a completely different beast under Stevie Gerrard so dare I say we really should be strong favourites to win this tie at ease. Therein may lie the danger that even under Stevie G our biggest problem has been with teams soaking up pressure and hitting us with a sucker punch. While under Caixinha with Kranjcar in the team Rangers never ever looked fit and that is completely different to the team at the moment. Rangers look like a super fit high pressing dream machine. Surely with this team lightening cannot strike twice in the same place? Looking at the Prógres team that played against Cork they still have five players who were involved the last time round. The standout name is Sebastian Thill who scored their second goal that knocked the Gers out. Their goalkeeper Sebastian Flauss was injured in the first half the last time we played them but unfortunately we hardly made their substitute keeper make a save. I hate using the word revenge as it sounds as if you have to win at all costs for past performances. I think we should have that mindset in every game whether we lost to a team in the past or not. I am pretty sure Stevie G will have that mindset as well. European money has become a major player on how much you can improve your team and Dave King has stated in the past that we need to get through to the European play-off rounds on a regular basis to keep improving the team to get to the level we need to be at. We really can't let teams who can't even play in their own stadium get in our way. While I have already booked a hotel in Luxembourg for the return game I will be happy to go there with the tie already decided by an emphatic win at Ibrox. Picking a Rangers team is a nightmare at the moment as we have two players for every position. I think McGregor is making a lot of mistakes at the moment so I will go with: Foderingham Tavernier Goldson Katic Barisic Davis Jack Stewart Jones Arfield Morelos To be honest I am not a Goldson fan and would prefer Edmundson and Katic but I think you can set Goldson's name in stone to play. Come on the Gers, get intae them!
  12. Can't wait for tonight's game and hoping for a comfortable evening with a few more goals. In terms of the team, I don't think the manager will make any big surprises in his selection and will try to maintain continuity to a degree with his starting XI whilst giving a chance to guys like Edmundson, Docherty and Hastie to see what they can do at this level - amongst others from the bench as the game progresses. Morelos is a game or two behind others in his pre-season so he may well start ahead of Stewart or Defoe. Here's my guess at the team (4-3-2-1):
  13. It's been a little over seven weeks since our last competitive game and still just under a year since we began last year's Europa League campaign but tonight in Gibraltar, we're already underway for the 2019/20 season. Just along the southern coast of Spain where many Rangers fans will be already be on holiday, for the players these fans support, it's back to work later in an overseas territory we've not competed in before. Yet as Celtic found out a few years ago on the artificial surface of Gibraltar's national stadium, nothing is guaranteed in terms of a positive result so nothing should be left to chance for Steven Gerrard's men tonight. In terms of last season's efforts, despite there being no trophies nor success per se, the common train of thought amongst fans and critics alike is that Rangers did improve. First and foremost they went toe to toe with Celtic in each of the four games between the teams, including comfortably winning our two home matches. Indeed, as much as there may not have been a genuine title race, Rangers did, for a while at least, did keep it interesting. Moreover, in terms of our European adventures in 2018/19, for what was a new squad and management team, to win four qualifiers and just miss out on qualifying from our group stage, was also heartening and should provide confidence for this summer's pre-domestic action. Of course Steven Gerrard isn't a man for sentiment or resting on his laurels. Although he'll still want to move on the better part of ten players in our squad, he's already signed several with a few more likely to arrive depending on our European progress and who else actually does leave. With regard to the new signings, Rangers fans will be happy with how they looked on Sunday in a fairly decent 5-0 home win over an admittedly weak Oxford Utd side. Edmundson, Aribo, Hastie, Stewart, Ojo and Jones all did well on their Ibrox debuts whilst existing players like Polster and Docherty also felt like new signings too. Although Alfredo Morelos is struggling with a 'slight' groin strain, the manager's wealth of options further forward in the team makes us very difficult to predict in an attacking sense and Jermain Defoe looks increasingly sharp when called upon. Yes, summer friendly wins (or defeats) shouldn't be used to define a team's forthcoming season but there were plenty positives on show against Oxford so the manager will be pleased to have a selection headache going into the competitive stuff. With that in mind, his team isn't all that easy to predict. Despite not featuring in Sunday's friendly, Allan McGregor should be in goal tonight and his early season Europa form last season was key to our progression through the qualifying rounds. Similarly, Connor Goldson and Niko Katic were the central defensive pairing throughout July and August last year and I'd expect that to be the case for this year too given the way they finished the season as well. Captain James Tavernier will remain first choice right back of course but it's at left back where we have our first uncertainty. Jon Flanagan also started and finished last season pretty well there but is out until next month after undergoing a hernia operation. Meanwhile, despite now becoming Croatia's first choice left back since signing for Rangers, Borna Barisic has struggled to look anything other than lost when selected for us. However, I do think he may start tonight instead of Andy Halliday and the Croatian simply must step up this season if he wants to stay at the club. Moving into midfield and this is where the manager's options make it very difficult to guess how the engine room will be formed: just ask Jordan Rossiter and Ross McCrorie how tricky it is to get a game here. In addition to the actual personnel choices, the formation is also uncertain, though with Jermain Defoe likely to start, I'd expect the 4-3-2-1 used latterly and successfully towards the end of last season will be deployed tonight. That means perming a slightly deeper three from Aribo, Davis, Docherty, Jack and Kamara with a further two from Hastie, Jones, Ojo and Stewart in the advanced roles to support Defoe. Good luck trying to be right there! Given Morelos is injured and Kyle Lafferty on his way out, obtaining another striker has to be a priority for the manager. Greg Stewart did well in his cameo there for 60mins on Sunday but will prefer to play just off someone else in the main. As such I'd expect us to sign another striker - if not two if Morelos leaves as well - before the end of August. Poker will be being played there and just how much money we can raise from the sale of the Colombian will decide the quality and timing of any new acquisitions. For now, Gerrard will be content with the options he has up front but I do expect at least one more striker and defender to arrive. Any fees raised for the likes of Foderingham, Holt, Dorrans, Grezda, Dodoo and Lafferty will help there, especially if we can hold onto James Tavernier for as long as possible. All things considered, despite the importance of tonight's match and future qualifying ties, this is still very much a Rangers team in progress. There will be seven changes from the team that started against FK Shkupi last July, and whilst missing players such as Candeias, Arfield and Morelos may still have a future part to play at the club, this season's team will be markedly different from last term as we move through the qualifiers. Crucially though, expectations will have also increased and the next few weeks will see just how these new players, and the management team responsible for selecting them, cope with that demand. So far at least, Steven Gerrard certainly hasn't looked anywhere near as 'terrified' of the task facing him as some of his dafter critics claim but he will be aware any honeymoon period he had has now ended and progress this coming season must be more tangible than pointing to a few decent wins. Wrestling the title from Celtic will be extremely tough and repeating or improving upon last season's European campaign equally tricky but those - along with success in the domestic cups - are the measures by which he'll be judged on. He and his team can start with no monkeying around on the Rock tonight. Possible team (4-3-2-1):
  14. Rangers will be able to call on reprieved Jon Flanagan in their Scottish Premiership finale at Kilmarnock on Sunday. The former Liverpool defender was cited by the Scottish Football Association after a post-match video consultation suggested he had elbowed Celtic's Scott Brown during Sunday's Old Firm game. But it was confirmed on Friday afternoon that Rangers had won their appeal over the retrospective red card. Celtic might be on track for another treble but Gers have struck upon a winning formula since their Old Firm defeat at Parkhead, with last weekend's derby triumph their sixth in a row. "I've just been told we've never had a clean sweep of wins after the split so that is a good incentive for us," Gers assistant boss McAllister, speaking in place of boss Steven Gerrard, said. "We're on a good run so it will be nice to finish on a high and have that buoyancy for next season." Kilmarnock are looking to cap a fine season by sealing third spot but manager Steve Clarke will have to watch the final game of the season from the stands after being handed a two-match touchline ban following recent comments about referee Steven McLean. But his Killie future remains in doubt amid links to the Scotland job and assistant Alex Dyer has admitted Clarke would find the national job hard to turn down. Team News While Flanagan is available, Nikola Katic and Scott Arfield will miss the Rugby Park clash after both were given extra time off ahead of summer commitments with Croatia's U21s and Canada respectively. But Graham Dorrans could end his seven-month knee injury nightmare against Steve Clarke's side. "Graham has featured well in training recently," said McAllister. "He's had a couple of games behind closed doors and done very well so Graham will come into consideration for the weekend definitely." https://www.skysports.com/football/kilmarnock-vs-rangers/preview/406788
  15. Rangers will be without first-choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor for the final Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. The former Scotland number one will have to sit out the Ibrox clash with Neil Lennon's Celtic after he was sent off for kicking out at Hibernian striker Marc McNulty last weekend. Fringe men Kyle Lafferty, Lee Wallace and Eros Grezda are also ruled out with knocks as they join Gareth McAuley, Graham Dorrans and Jamie Murphy (both knee) on the absentee list. Since the two sides last met in a fiery encounter at the end of March, Rangers have won all five of their Scottish Premiership games and manager Steven Gerrard says the game still has meaning despite final positions already being confirmed. "All the players are aware it is a big game for the supporters with the rivalry and all the history which has gone before," he said. "After the last Old Firm, which we played really in and felt as if we should have taken something from, we have stressed the importance of trying to finish the season as strongly as we can and really focus on this season." Celtic clinched their eighth successive Scottish Premiership title last week with a 3-0 win at Aberdeen, and interim manager Neil Lennon has claimed Rangers have a "huge disciplinary problem" ahead of Sunday's game. He said: "It's not my problem that they have a huge disciplinary problem and if it manifests itself again on Sunday then we will try to take advantage. "Scott Brown is always important. It is a big game and he is a big game player. It is very easy to say Scott Brown will be playing on Sunday. We are the champions and we have to play and act like champions." Lennon will assess a number of his Celtic squad ahead of the Scottish Premiership clash. Kieran Tierney will have an operation on a double hernia at the end of the domestic season and the Hoops interim boss will decide how many of the final three games of the campaign he will play. Ryan Christie (face), Jack Hendry, Vakoun Bayo, Dedryck Boyata (all hamstring), Craig Gordon, Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani (all knee) are out, while Leigh Griffiths is back training after dealing with personal issues but has no chance of featuring at Ibrox. https://www.skysports.com/football/rangers-vs-celtic/preview/406781
  16. buster. 2,478 #7 Posted 6 hours ago The Scottish Premiership Ibrox Stadium Rangers FC vs Hibernian FC Referee – Bobby Madden Assistants – Sean Carr and Graeme Leslie Fourth Official – Alan Newlands Missing: Jamie Murphy (Knee), Graham Dorrans (Knee), Gareth McAuley (hamstring, out for the season) Doubtful: Ryan Jack (throat infection) Live on Sky Sports Football and Rangers TV Penultimate home game of the season brings Hibs to Ibrox in one of two significant Home challenges left to play prior to holidays. They will arrive for the first time at Ibrox with Paul Heckingbottom in charge. First thing to say is, that is some surname and the mind drifts to yesterday afternoon walking along the beach with some ecking views to behold. In fact, trying to squeeze in a bit of equality on the back or bottom of Hecking for a second, you wonder if Hibs will be back in for Kris Commons soon. Their results under Heck Unbeaten in 10 league games (6 wins and 4 draws) Sat 16/02/19 PRE Hibernian 2 - 0 Hamilton Acade… View events More info Fri 22/02/19 PRE Dundee 2 - 4 Hibernian View events More info Wed 27/02/19 PRE St. Johnstone 1 - 2 Hibernian View events More info Sat 02/03/19 FAC Hibernian 0 - 2 Celtic View events More info Fri 08/03/19 PRE Hibernian 1 - 1 Rangers View events More info Sat 16/03/19 PRE Hibernian 2 - 0 Motherwell View events More info Fri 29/03/19 PRE Livingston 1 - 2 Hibernian View events More info Wed 03/04/19 PRE Hibernian 0 - 0 Kilmarnock More info Sat 06/04/19 PRE Hearts 1 - 2 Hibernian View events More info Sun 21/04/19 PRE Hibernian 0 - 0 Celtic More info Sun 28/04/19 PRE Hibernian 1 - 1 Hearts Away results only Bottom 6 teams and a poorish Hearts Fri 22/02/19 PRE Dundee 2 - 4 Hibernian View events More info Wed 27/02/19 PRE St. Johnstone 1 - 2 Hibernian View events More info Fri 29/03/19 PRE Livingston 1 - 2 Hibernian View events More info Sat 06/04/19 PRE Hearts 1 - 2 Hibernian I watched most of the Edinburgh Derby away win and they counter attacked effectively mainly down to the distribution of Mallen and the ball carrying/threat of Horgan. The guy they have on loan from Genoa, Omeonga also has his moments....At the other end they are physical and will take their pound of flesh if the referee lets them. The question is do Hibs set-up defensively and play the counter-attack ? Probably, and on paper, their counter attack offers a fair bit more than a depleted Aberdeen last week. So this for me, will probably be the biggest test for our new shape and way of playing to date. I'm presuming we'll stay with the same shape and personnel (Jack's throat permitting). Having Morelos on the bench will be good insurance and an excellent option in the second half. Here are our results during the same time period as the O Heck era at Easter Road. It's like a high pressure area sticks around for a while, followed by a series of weather fronts from the Atlantic, followed by another spell of high pressure...We'll need to do something about so much change to the climate and become consistent and now is a good time to edge closer towards that, by registering a 5th successive league win for the first time since 2011. Sat 16/02/19 PRE Rangers 0 - 0 St. Johnstone More info Wed 20/02/19 FAC Rangers 5 - 0 Kilmarnock View events More info Sun 24/02/19 PRE Hamilton Acade… 0 - 5 Rangers View events More info Wed 27/02/19 PRE Rangers 4 - 0 Dundee View events More info Sun 03/03/19 FAC Aberdeen 1 - 1 Rangers View events More info Fri 08/03/19 PRE Hibernian 1 - 1 Rangers View events More info Tue 12/03/19 FAC Rangers 0 - 2 Aberdeen View events More info Sat 16/03/19 PRE Rangers 1 - 1 Kilmarnock View events More info Sun 31/03/19 PRE Celtic 2 - 1 Rangers View events More info Wed 03/04/19 PRE Rangers 3 - 0 Hearts View events More info Sun 07/04/19 PRE Motherwell 0 - 3 Rangers View events More info Sat 20/04/19 PRE Hearts 1 - 3 Rangers View events More info Sun 28/04/19 PRE Rangers 2 - 0 Aberdeen View events More info Sun 05/05/19 PRE Rangers 15 : 30 Hibernian Home games only Sat 16/02/19 PRE Rangers 0 - 0 St. Johnstone More info Wed 20/02/19 FAC Rangers 5 - 0 Kilmarnock View events More info Wed 27/02/19 PRE Rangers 4 - 0 Dundee View events More info Tue 12/03/19 FAC Rangers 0 - 2 Aberdeen View events More info Sat 16/03/19 PRE Rangers 1 - 1 Kilmarnock View events More info Wed 03/04/19 PRE Rangers 3 - 0 Hearts View events More info Sun 28/04/19 PRE Rangers 2 - 0 Aberdeen It's time Hibs were beaten in the League under O'Heck and I think we'll be the team to do it. Fancy Ryan Kent to have a decent game and be the main man this weekend
  17. One of the best perks of being part of the Blue Order over the years was bringing out the huge 'Silence of the Sheep' banner every time we beat them at Ibrox. Sure, it was rather crude and small children may have been offended and cried, but Aberdeen's awful record over the years in Glasgow meant it was good sport and a well deserved message. Unfortunately, this season at least, it's us that have been silenced and the bragging rights are currently the prerogative of our chums in the North East. Aside from an impressive 4-2 reverse in Aberdeen, in the six games we've already played against the Dons this season, that has been our only victory. Yes, we've dominated possession and territory in most of the other matches as well but the men in red have won three times; all in Glasgow and twice at Ibrox. Suffice to say, Sunday's match won't be any cake-walk and, no matter the result, TBO won't be flying any banners of long-lost hubris. Worse for the Rangers support are today's media reports that both captain James Tavernier and striker Jermain Defoe are struggling to make the game. The latter was pictures training this morning so should feature but the loss of our skipper would be a blow, more so should the injury be a longer term one. We do have options to replace him - Matt Polster may be the preferred one after making a short cameo in the role last weekend - but those Rangers fans that bemoan Tav's captaincy and contribution may find themselves eating their words should we struggle creatively on Sunday afternoon. The good news for the support is that we've shown of late we can cope with adversity. The loss of Morelos and Kent to suspension worried all but the most optimistic of bears but the change in personnel and system to address that has worked well with three straight wins. And convincing ones at that. Kent is available again for Sunday but it says a lot for our current form that he may have to settle for a place on the bench. Morelos isn't back until next Sunday but, should Defoe remain fit and still scoring goals, then the Colombian too could rue his recent indiscipline. Injury and suspension aside, the rest of the Rangers team should pick itself. The defence have looked solid enough with Niko Katic proving himself very useful when we're facing physical strikers. After dealing well with Curtis Main and Uche Ikpeazu in the last two games, the Croatian centre half will relish another aerial battle with the impressive Sam Cosgrove. Meanwhile, in midfield, the likes of Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara and Steven Davis have all stepped up recently so should retain their place this week too. Indeed, the battling qualities of the Aberdeen midfield will mean they'll have to be on the top of their game once more. Our prize for three points is a clear one: at least second place in this year's Ladbrokes Premiership with Aberdeen left to battle it out with Killie and Hibs for third, fourth and fifth. A draw wouldn't be the end of the world either leaving us eight points in front of Aberdeen with just three games left. A loss brings Aberdeen right back into the reckoning and would guarantee is nothing ahead of our remaining matches. Given recent bickering between the managers in the media, it seems any bragging isn't just between the fans now either so both Gerrard and McInnes have put themselves under pressure. Yes, Aberdeen may well offer more against us than other teams but that's no excuse when it comes to our poor results and performances against them. That has to change and there's no time like the present. Possible team (4-3-2-1):
  18. Rangers remain without Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos due to suspension for Saturday's trip to Hearts, live on Sky Sports. If Rangers fail to win on Saturday, then Celtic will be champions if they win at Hibernian on Sunday. Steven Gerrard insists he has no new injury concerns and his entire squad is fit and available apart from his two key men, who were dismissed against Celtic in March. Gerrard, whose team are 11 points off Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic and were knocked out by Aberdeen in both of the domestic cups, said: "I think the players deserve a lot of credit considering where they were 12 months ago to where they are now. "But the message to the players is quite clear, we need to continue to work hard and keep improving because there's still a way to go before we are ready to compete for real." After featuring in the victory over Inverness, Hearts midfielder Peter Haring has suffered a recurrence of the groin injury that kept him out for a few weeks and is a major doubt. Hearts remain without Aidan Keena, Steven Naismith, Ben Garuccio, Demetri Mitchell and Callumn Morrison due to long term knee problems. https://www.skysports.com/football/hearts-vs-rangers/preview/406760
  19. Steven Gerrard will be absent from the dugout when Rangers travel to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Gerrard has accepted a one-match touchline ban after he was charged for comments he made to referee Bobby Madden in the aftermath of Rangers' defeat to Celtic last weekend. Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are also suspended following incidents during the Celtic Park showdown. Rangers are 13 points behind leaders Celtic, who could secure an eighth consecutive title if they beat Livingston on Saturday and Rangers lose on Sunday. With one game remaining until the league split, Motherwell are eighth in the table, six points behind sixth-placed Hibernian. They were beaten 3-1 at Aberdeen in midweek but have won their last five games at Fir Park. Goalkeeper Mark Gillespie faces a late fitness test while Carl McHugh is a doubt due to a neck injury. https://www.skysports.com/football/motherwell-vs-rangers/391335
  20. Have to admit, due to family commitments, I didn't start watching Sunday's Old Firm match until the second half. All things considered, it seems I got the better deal as, despite Morelos' sending off, Rangers outplayed Celtic for much of the second period and only another schoolboy error on our part cost us at least a deserved point. Unfortunately the outcome was all too familiar. OK, we've not lost a huge amount of games this season but we have dropped too many points. And, far too often, this has been the result of indiscipline and unforced errors. In fact, we've not won now in five games and in every match we've given away crucial goals which weren't just avoidable but bordering on the completely ridiculous. From the two errors in possession which cost us goals on Saturday (albeit finished well by Celtic) to poor goalkeeping, daft square passes, being caught on the ball and giving away daft penalties, the sheer number of crazy mistakes of late must have the manager tearing his hair out. Add in suspensions now for Morelos, Halliday and Kent, we're now without three important players just as the fixtures become even harder. What makes all this all the more difficult to swallow is the fine margins. Sure, we've not been playing that well recently and we still struggle up against compact defences but we're clearly not far off being more than a decent side ourselves. The football at times (see our equaliser at the weekend) is fantastic and we do show some excellent character when least expected. Take away some of the sillier mistakes and the indiscipline then we may have taken better advantage of what has been a fairly average Celtic outfit this campaign. No matter, what if's don't stand up to much scrutiny so we are where we are and we need to end this win-less run now if we're to consolidate second position this season and take any sort of solace from another barren year. Tonight at Ibrox we host Hearts so it's another tough game against a side that always enjoy the physical aspect and, as they showed on Saturday in their win over Aberdeen, won't have any worries in facing us. Even if they're missing a few key players themselves - particularly the impressive Uche Ikpeazu who suffered concussion late in their Dons win - Hearts always put up stiff opposition so we can expect a tricky game. In terms of our team, losing Morelos and Halliday restricts the manager's options quite severely. Up front, the Colombian has obviously supplied the majority of our goals and with neither Jermain Defoe or the rarely seen Kyle Lafferty showing up too often due to Morelos' PotY form their lack of sharpness is all too obvious. Opting for one or both these players tonight will be key to the system we deploy: will it be our default 4-3-3 with Lafferty in a more withdrawn role or two in attack which may suit these players better? Meanwhile Borna Barisic is again injured so it seems Jon Flanagan may be brought in from the cold for the left back position. Lee Wallace is even further out of the picture so it's unlikely the former club captain will make a return tonight against his old club. Apparently Ryan Kent has appealed his two game ban so should be available this evening which is one small comfort for Steven Gerrard. After those key decisions, the manager may also be tempted into further changes. Joe Worrall again looked uncertain on Sunday so Niko Katic may be preferred whilst the dynamic of the midfield, given the opposition, the venue and our chosen formation, may see a McCrorie, Candeias or Jack drop out in favour of Kamara or Davis. Whatever the team, the pressure is on Rangers tonight. Although most fans appreciated the way we reacted to adversity at the weekend, more dropped points would cause real concern in the rank and file. Killie look strong behind us and we can't afford any gap to shorten further as the post-split fixtures are about to be decided. This Rangers team need to knuckle down now and supply results as well as performances. Cutting out the mistakes - both in terms of reacting to moronic opposition players and with respect to our decision-making on and off the ball, will go a long, long way. Possible team (4-3-3):
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