Rangers return to league action tonight against Aberdeen at Ibrox. The atmosphere in a sold-out stadium will be electric by the time the game kicks off at 745pm. This is a clash between 2nd and 3rd in the league, and will go a long way to determining just how the teams will fare in their remaining 16 league matches of this campaign.

Aberdeen come into the match 3 points ahead of Rangers, but 7 goals shorter in goal difference. Recent results in the league have saw them take 10 points from the last 15. Those were followed up by a convincing 4-1 win over St Mirren in the cup last weekend.


St Johnstone (away), 3-0 win
Hibernian (home), 4-1 win
Celtic (away), 3-0 defeat
Partick Thistle (home), 1-0 win
Hearts (away), 0-0 draw

Since the double-header of matches earlier this season, Aberdeen have made a couple of squad changes. Greg Tansey has been loaned out to Ross County for the rest of the season, having struggled to impress. They’ve signed Niall McGinn, bringing him back to the club only half a season after he left. They’ve also loaned in a 21 year old midfielder from Manchester City called Chidi Nwakani. However, he hasn’t been granted a work permit yet, so won’t feature.

Given this is the third meeting between the sides this season, the dangers faced are well known. Aberdeen will offer a threat with set pieces and look to play their direct style. With the injuries Rangers have in midfield, they’ll look to McLean and Shinnie to dominate that area. If they can do that, it would give their attacking players more of a platform to put the Rangers defence under pressure. It’s not certain what side McInnes will start with, but I’d imagine Rooney will be played up front to add to the strength and height in their team. Whilst they had some loose moments in defence against St Mirren, they were largely comfortable and took advantage of the open style of the away side.

From Rangers perspective, the fans are excited by the prospect of this match. There will be a number of new signings to look forward to seeing for the first time. It’s Aberdeen, which is always one we look forward to these days. And added to all of that, it’s felt like ages since there’s been a competitive game. Even though the weather won’t be great and it’ll be a relatively cold night, the Ibrox crowd will be energetic and enthusiastic.

In terms of team selection, Rangers have a couple of issues. The first of those is in midfield, where injuries are numerous. In the games against Aberdeen earlier this season, Rangers started with 4 players in a diamond midfield shape. Of those 4, only one is available for this match. The return of Halliday and signing of Goss add options, but it’s still looking a little light in that area of the team for the moment.

The second issue, which is at least a positive one, is how to best utilise the attacking options. In more advanced areas, Rangers have Murphy, Windass, Candeias, Morelos and Cummings to call upon, as well as others on the fringes. There’s no sensible way to include all 5 players, and even 4 is a bit of a risk. In this game, that risk might have to be taken, though, given the lack of natural midfield options. Candeias, Windass and Morelos have been integral to our attacking play so far this season. Murphy is a player you’d expect will start when fit. Cummings is almost going to force his way in through sheer weight of personality on top of what he will hopefully offer. It’s not an easy choice, which isn’t a bad thing, but does leave the squad a little unbalanced until injuries clear up.

In terms of a predicted team, I think Rangers will go with the following:







Cummings will be a great option from the bench. Goss may start, but I think the more physical nature of this match will see Halliday preferred. Martin is experienced and has kept himself as fit as possible, so won’t be seen as a risk to throw in from the start.

Aberdeen will probably look to target the left hand side of the Rangers defence with any longer balls they play. Wilson and John will be seen as less capable of dealing with that than Martin or Tavernier. Our midfield will need to be strong in terms of winning second balls if that’s the case. We’ll be hoping our right hand side combines as well as they have for most of the season. For the players making their debut, there won’t be much of a chance to ease themselves in. Morelos has yet to play against Aberdeen, so will be even more eager to get a goal in what is a big match.

In terms of a prediction, I believe Rangers will win a tight, entertaining match 2-1. Both teams are going to play to win, which usually results in a better game.

What’s your predictions for tonight? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!