So, after another progression in the cup, we have another league match in our 'comfort zone' if you'd like to call it. Would be churlish to deny our Ibrox form has been comfortable this season, with the scores being 4-0, 5-1 and 3-0. However, even if the struggles have been away from home, the games have still shown the hard work that needs to be done to beat any of these teams.
The latest team to try and stand in the way of our expected promotion is Elgin City from the Highlands. Elgin go into this match two points above us top of the table after an impressive start, so there is a chance for Rangers to go above them and maybe top depending on other results, but Elgin will have other ideas. Rangers have come up against Elgin three times in competitive matches, all in the Scottish Cup at Ibrox. All three have been won with the latest being a 3-0 triumph on the 26th of February 1977 in the fourth round, Colin Jackson, Tommy McLean and Alex McDonald scoring in front of a crowd of 18,000. I think we may get a bigger attendance this weekend!
A very interesting bit of history with Elgin that we can probably relate to currently is that, back in the 1992-93 season when they were still in the Highland League and we were trying to reach the Champions League final, Elgin were stripped of a league title that they won that season. This happened due to their manager John Teasdale being found to be betting on games involving his own side, and some other issues with ineligible players and changing fixtures round in a dodgy way. There isn't a lot of info about it to easily find and I certainly have no memory of it, so whether it was fair or not I couldn't say, but it's probably the closest thing to our possible 'punishment' you can find in Scottish Football history.
However, Elgin have been SFL members since 2000 and all they'll be thinking about now is coming up against Rangers rather than that title. Again Rangers fans, players and management will go into the match expecting a comfortable victory, the team found some goalscoring form on Thursday and we need to continue that while not making stupid mistakes at the back. Team news wise we go into this game with the transfer window finally shut and our squad decided until the next transfer window anyway. It seems to be a fully fit pool of players apart from Francisco Sandaza having missed the Falkirk clash, remains to be seen if he will be available.
Our captain Carlos Bocanegra has gone to Spain on a season loan, ending weeks of speculation, so we will find out on Sunday who our new skipper is, with Lee McCulloch the favourite. For me two of the new signings, Sebastien Faure and Anestis Argyriou, were impressive midweek and should keep their places, McCulloch and Andy Little also will after scoring, while Dean Shiels and Lee Wallace returned and hopefully will be fit enough to remain permanent fixtures now. Emilson Cribari looked a little clumsy at times but solid enough, and he is likely to be the main man in our centre back area after the departures of Dorin Goian and Bocanegra. In fact i'd probably keep the same line up (apart from the enforced Bocanegra change) but I can see Ally McCoist making changes somewhere, like bringing Barrie McKay in, Fran Sandaza perhaps if he returns from injury, and of course our last gasp addition on deadline day. Everyone will be dying to see our new exciting winger David 'Cooper' Templeton in action but he may come off the bench.
Whoever does play, all eyes are on Rangers especially with the game live on ESPN, although the unusual 4.30 kick off will probably have more neutrals tuned into the Premiership! With the amount of season ticket sales it will hopefully be a rocking crowd again, mid week cup games look like they may dwindle in terms of attendance so we need to keep up the atmosphere for our bread and butter, the Scottish Third Division. The supporters will be encouraged by good wins with good football, so now is the time to start a proper run of form, the squad will be settled by Sunday so there should be no uncertainty in that area.
If you would like to talk about the game, tactics and possible starting XI, please join in the discussion on the Gersnet Forum.