The post-split phase of the Scottish Premiership season gets underway on Saturday lunchtime in Gorgie, when Craig Levein’s Heart of Midlothian welcome Rangers to Tynecastle. The Edinburgh side will have been boosted by their victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend, especially as they lost the two league matches that preceded that win.
For Rangers, the rest of the season is all about getting as close to Celtic as possible. Steven Gerrard’s Light Blues cannot win a trophy now, so must focus on collecting as many points as possible from their remaining league games. The Gers won the last two league games before the split, triumphing 3-0 at Ibrox over Hearts and by the same scoreline away at Motherwell a fortnight ago.
Heart of Midlothian vs Rangers Prediction: Jambos 1-2 Gers
Our prediction for this game is that Rangers will win a close game 2-1. Hearts’ minds will now be focused on the Scottish Cup final against Celtic next month. Rangers are stinging after not winning any silverware this season, and that might make them dangerous opponents this weekend. We suspect that the Gers’ attacking potency will prove just too much for the men from west Edinburgh. Some extra spice has been added to the fixture by Rangers’ reported pursuit of Jambos’ Scotland defender John Souttar. The Gers are apparently weighing up a £2million bid for the player.
Our recommended tip: Rangers, both score
Our featured tip for this game comes from Ladbrokes, who are offering odds of 5/2 on Rangers to win and both teams to score. This looks a good bet to us as it matches our prediction of a 2-1 away win, but also gives you some flexibility when it comes to the precise final scoreline. Hearts are lacking forward power in the absence of Steven Naismith, and Rangers have scored six goals without reply in their last two games. Home advantage might give Hearts a goal, but they will not have enough in their locker to beat the Gers.
These two sides have met on three previous occasions in 2018/19, with all three of those games coming in the Scottish Premiership. The first clash was on October 7, and was won 3-1 by Rangers at Ibrox. Scott Arfield was on the scoresheet for the Gers. The second game was at Tynecastle on December 2, and was also won by Rangers, who triumphed 2-1, with Alfredo Morelos scoring one of the goals. Arfield was sent off. The third encounter was very recent, with the teams meeting at Ibrox on April 3. Rangers won 3-0, with Arfield on the scoresheet again.
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Players to watch: Uche Ikpeazu & Scott Arfield
Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu scored one of his team’s three goals in last week’s Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Inverness. The English forward has seven goals in all competitions to his credit this season. With Steven Naimsith still absent with injury, Ikpeazu needs to step up and lead the line for the remainder of the Jambos’ campaign. With only two league goals to his name this season, he needs to start finding the net with more regularity.
Scottish-born Canadian international Scott Arfield has emerged as a real key player for Steven Gerrard’s Light Blues this season. Offering plenty of creativity in attack, Arfield is a composed ball player. The former Burnley player has scored 10 goals and provided six assists in 25 league matches in 2018/19, and also weighed in with one in the Europa League for the Govan side. If the Hearts defence is stubborn on Saturday, Arfield has the guile to unlock it.