RANGERS will have to win at Easter Road for the first time in over two years tomorrow night in order to keep up the pressure on Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic ahead of the third Glasgow derby match of the season on Sunday week.

The Ibrox club’s record at the Edinburgh ground since their financial meltdown back in 2012 and subsequent drop down the divisions has been far from impressive; they have only prevailed on three occasions in their last 10 visits to Leith.

Steven Gerrard will, too, be without Alfredo Morelos against Jack Ross’s resurgent team after his leading goalscorer picked up his first red card of the season against Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.

Gerrard has still to oversee a victory in Leith – his team drew 0-0 and 1-1 there last term – and will be doing well to do so this time around against opponents who have won three, drawn one and lost just two – against Ross County and Celtic away - of their six games since Ross took charge last month.

So what do Rangers have to do to end their Easter Road hoodoo and avoid the sort of result that undermined their bid to win the Scottish title in the 2018/19 campaign?


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Jermain Defoe, who should come in to replace Morelos up front, will relish the opportunity to add to the 13 goals he has bagged so far this season. The former England internationalist is vastly experienced and will be undeterred by the hostile welcome the Glasgow club will receive.

The 37-year-old hasn’t been on target in eight games now. He last netted in the 2-1 win over Motherwell at Ibrox way back on Sunday, October 27. In fairness to him, he has only started in one of those matches, against Hamilton away last month. But he will have to be back at his very best to prevent more dropped points.

Defoe netted the first perfect hat-trick of his long career in a 6-1 win over Hibs at Ibrox back in August and he, along with his team mates, will need to show the same sort of clinical finishing if the visitors are to prevail.

A lack of ruthlessness in the final third certainly cost Rangers dear against Hibernian at Easter Road this time last year when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Neil Lennon’s side despite dominating the 90 minutes.


Having scored six goals in four games, Welsh striker Christian Doidge was the obvious choice to receive the Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month award for November. The 27-year-old, who didn’t manage to weigh in with a single top flight strike under Paul Heckingbottom, has suddenly become one of the form front men in the country.

Starving Doidge of quality service and nullifying the considerable threat which the 6ft 1in forward poses in attack will be key to Rangers’ chances of victory. Big games are required from centre backs Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic.


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Former St Mirren and Sunderland manager Jack Ross has made a quite an impact since he took over from Heckingbottom at Hibs. The capital club’s style of play has changed and they now take a far more positive approach to games. Their results and league position, too, have improved dramatically.

But is their midfield still a little lightweight? Can they cope with a physical battle? Are they able to win ugly? Ross has had to make do with the players he inherited and will no doubt be keen to bring in a few of his own men in key positions during the January transfer window. Bringing in somebody who can add some steel in he middle of the park may be a priority.

There is no doubting Scott Allan’s ability and his new head coach appears to be getting the very best out of a mercurial talent. But he is the kind of individual who needs a platform, and possession, to perform on.

If Ryan Jack and Glen Kamara, or whoever gets the nod from Gerrard to start in that area, can stamp their authority on proceedings and dictate play they will take their rivals’ most gifted performer out of the game.


Friday night games at Easter Road are normally pretty feisty affairs and tomorrow evening’s encounter in front of the BT Sport cameras promises to be a real festive cracker. Hibs will have the vast majority of the crowd behind them and if Paul Hanlon and his team mates can start well Rangers will have a hard task silencing them. Gaining a strong foothold in the match after kick-off, possibly even taking an early lead, will dampen the enthusiasm of the Hibees faithful.


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Rangers’ backline has arguably been the best in Scotland this season. They have certainly conceded the fewest goals of any team in the Betfred Cup and Ladbrokes Premiership. Their rearguard has been breached on just 11 occasions. Celtic, meanwhile, have let in 12 in the same competitions.

That said, they have been prone to costly lapses in concentration at the back. Against Celtic at Ibrox in September and Young Boys in Switzerland in October they contributed massively to their own downfall due to their carelessness on the ball under pressure. They will be punished if they do the same again.