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.
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 should make his second debut for the club against Livingston, and he could make an immediate impact.
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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.
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.
Site Editor's Comments
Make no mistake this will be a tricky game on Saturday. Livi lost a few key players over the summer but certainly have started the season well again.
For us, it's a chance to freshen up the side for Gerrard. I'm not convinced he'll 'rest' Goldson but if he wants Helander in the team ahead of our European games, then this is as good a chance as he'll get. Barisic should be a certainty at left back with Flanagan out after a hernia operation.
Not sure if Jack will make this game or not after a swollen knee so it was good to see Kamara play well for Finland over the international break. Aribo should also gain confidence from his debut goal for Nigeria whilst I hope Scott Arfield put his feet up for a well deserved rest.
That just leaves the question of whether or not Kent is match sharp enough to start. I say yes and here's hoping he hits the ground running as we'll definitely need his guile on Saturday.
Possible starting XI (4-3-2-1)
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