I must admit, I'm still a bit unsure about Friday night football.
On the one hand, it's the end of the working week for most so there are few better ways to enjoy a Friday evening than watching your favourite team with a few of your preferred beverages. Win, and you can stride about the Saturday shopping like a man who has just won the lottery (aye, grab a couple of steaks, hen). But, lose, well, everyone's weekend is spoilt and there's not much joy to be had from watching Sky Sports coverage the following day desperate for the teams around you to drop points too (put they steaks back and no sweets for the bairns either).
In that vein, Rangers can ill-afford not to win tonight. Already eight points behind Celtic in the league, anything other than a win would surely be the death knell for any thoughts we still have of winning the title. After all, the chances of Aberdeen putting up a fight at Celtic Park tomorrow are fairly low. More so when their biggest game of the season is at Ibrox this coming Tuesday...
In any case, as much as we may have to rely on other teams taking points from Celtic, we can only hope the existing gap helps focus the minds of our players. We visit the East side of Glasgow ourselves in three weeks so with only this game and next week's visit of Kilmarnock (yes, them again), we need nothing less than six points and a win at Parkhead to at least attempt to apply some pressure to Brendan Rodger's Neil Lennon's men (yes, him again).
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That's easier said than done though. Since Lennon left Hibs in controversial circumstances at the end of January, the Edinburgh team's form has been reasonable enough under new manager Paul Heckingbottom with three solid league wins and only the one loss as Lennon returned to Easter Road in the Scottish Cup last weekend. The bulk of the Hibs squad will remain familiar to Rangers fans and although they've lost a few key players in recent times, the threat of Marc McNulty and the guile of Serie A midfielder Stéphane Oméonga can be ignored at our peril this evening.
Nevertheless, as much as we've been inconsistent this season, we carry plenty of threat ourselves. Steven Gerrard has also been able to play a fairly settled team in recent weeks and this has been reflected in an unbeaten run that has reached ten games. Add in the fact we've only conceded one goal from open play in those ten games, as well as scoring 29 then clearly we're perhaps due a bit more credit than even some of our our fans like to hand out (yours truly included).
This should mean few changes from the bulk of the XI that has started recent matches. Unfortunately, with Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield not 100% fit, Gerrard may be tempted resting at least one, even if both players trained fully yesterday. With Eros Grezda also available again and Ross McCrorie a reliable back up for Jack, the manager certainly has alternatives should he wish to shake things up.
No matter the starting XI though, the challenge remains the same: beat Hibs at the third time of asking this season. That's never easy in Edinburgh but we should have done so in December and again just a week later in Glasgow. That was four points dropped though so we must go some way to recovering those tonight with a win. Let's hope we're all grabbing that shopping trolley with a smile on our face tomorrow.
Possible team (4-3-3):
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