From a Rangers perspective, let’s have a look at the weekend fixtures:
Friday 31st – Dundee v Aberdeen
As much as we might hate to say it, Aberdeen have been in good form for a while. Their results have been pretty consistent and they seem to score a lot of late goals to turn what looks like a draw into a win. Dundee, on the other hand, are very inconsistent, capable of being a decent team one week then looking pretty abject the next.
We obviously want Aberdeen to drop points, so we’ll have a keen eye on this one. The international break can either hurt a team’s momentum or help energise them for the rest of the season at this time of year, so hopefully a tricky Friday night away trip will see Aberdeen start to draw and lose those games they’ve been grinding out wins in of late.
It’s a battle of two young managers many seem to think will go on to do loads more – personally, I think neither will go any further than they are now – and unfortunately, I think Aberdeen will take the three points in this one.
Saturday 1st April:
Rangers v Motherwell
Damn, that’s been a long fortnight! After an impressive start against Hamilton, Pedro Caixinha gets to follow it up against another side prone to leaking goals and in front of a sold-out Ibrox. In terms of approach, I don’t expect too many differences from the last game – quicker balls forward, pressing higher up the pitch – but I do think Motherwell will make it far more difficult for us. They have a good mix of experience and pace going forward, and if they weren’t prone to playing so wide open in games, they’d have had a far better season.
Wallace may be injured from the international trip, but that aside it seems like most of the squad is available. Given how Caixinha clearly likes width and crosses from the fullbacks, if Wallace does miss out I wouldn’t be shocked to see Halliday in at left back rather than Hodson.
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We should win by a couple of clear goals, but I don’t think it’ll be an easy one at all.
Partick Thistle v Ross County
Given their resources and predictions for them at the start of the season, Thistle have had a great campaign. They may just be favourites to snatch that 6th spot and were unlucky not to be 5 points clear in that spot after conceding a late equaliser against Kilmarnock last time out.
Ross County have been poor by their standards, though. A decent manager with a squad far better than their league position suggests gives evidence to that. The fact we haven’t beaten them in 3 attempts this season, despite having enough clear cut chances in every game to win double the amount of matches, is disappointing, to say the least. They’ll give Thistle a tricky game, but I expect Partick to edge that one.
From our perspective, I want a Thistle win – I’d rather they finished 6th and we avoided a third away trip to Kilmarnock and their awful pitch.
Hamilton Accies v St Johnstone
Hamilton have had an awful time of late. Shipping loads of goals with no return of their own, they’re now bottom of the league on goal difference and face yet another top six side in St Johnstone. They have a young manager facing a real test, and given recent performances, it’s hard to say he’ll be able to turn them around very quickly.
St Johnstone are now 4th, 7 points behind ourselves and doing what they always seem to do of late in having a decent season somewhat unnoticed. Tommy Wright knows how to make a team hard to beat, but they seem a little better at winning the games they’re expected to now as well.
I’d love Hamilton to sneak a draw, just because it would keep St Johnstone miles away from us, but I’d expect the Perth side to win in a game hardly anyone will show up to watch, sadly.
Inverness CT v Kilmarnock
Inverness are only ahead of Hamilton at the bottom of the league on goal difference, and Richie Foran (if you didn’t hate him as a player you had something wrong with you) has found it difficult this season. They seem to have lost that ability to be hard to beat, especially at home and have some players who look out of their depth at this level. I’d imagine their fans and board are pretty disappointed with how it’s all gone so far.
Kilmarnock seem to have been somewhat rejuvenated under Lee McCulloch though. They have a huge squad of players, most pretty raw at first team level, but it’s been the experience of Stevie Smith, Kris Boyd and on-loan Connor Sammon they’ve relied upon since Lee Clark left. A late goal in their last game keeps alive hopes of a top six finish.
For some reason, I fancy a draw in that game. As I said earlier, despite all the ex-Gers at Killie, I’d rather avoid a third away trip there.
Sunday 2nd April:
Hearts v Celtic
Sunday is a huge day, one we should all be looking forward to.
It’s WrestleMania baaaaaaaybeeeee! Drink it in maaaaaaaaaaaan….
As for the game? Just get it over and done with. They deserve their league win early, as much as that feels awful to say.
Hearts under Cathro are a lost team. There’s clearly ability there, but they don’t seem to have anything resembling a game plan or identity and they’ll be lucky to finish 5th at this rate. I work with some Hearts fans – a couple of them were sure Cathro would be a success when hired, now they’d sack him tomorrow. Chat of “he needs time to get his ideas across” doesn’t cut it because they’re showing no signs of moving in any direction as it stands.
As for that lot – enjoy it while you can, it won’t last forever. Also, I genuinely believe they’re showing signs of complacency of late and will find it difficult to maintain their level in the remaining games this season. We’ve seen that ourselves in years where we’ve won the league early.
A good performance from our men in blue is all we need this weekend – oh, and Bray Wyatt to retain the title…