Rangers had to settle for the second place last season, as Celtic won the Scottish Premier League again. They have higher expectations this year, but were unable to win the first match played on the road. Now they have home pitch advantage and take on an opponent they have dominated in the past. A match against St. Mirren looks like the perfect opportunity to earn some valuable points.
St. Mirren did a better job in the opening match and secured a narrow margin victory over Dundee FC. On Sunday they face an opponent of an entirely different caliber and their strategy will also differ. This time St. Mirren won’t take chances upfront and instead will aim for a draw at Ibrox Stadium. They don’t have any injury concerns ahead of this fixture and will feature the best starting formation. Even so, they are underdogs in Glasgow and will have to survive a 90 minute siege.
Rangers won six of the last 11 matches and the other five games ended undecided. They expect the winning streak to continue on Sunday, against an opponent that never defeated them at home. Right now, the most important match for them is the one scheduled next week in Slovenia against Maribor. A 3:1 victory in the first leg means that they only need to avoid defeat by two goals on Thursday. They can’t afford to sustain any injuries against St. Mirren, so they won’t go for a crushing victory.
The visitors are riding a hot streak, having lost just once in the last six matches. The record in three consecutive draws in the Scottish League Cup and won all these fixtures at penalties. In the most recent game, St. Mirren scored six unanswered goals against Dumbarton to finish second in Group H.
Rangers vs St Mirren Prediction: Rangers 2-1 St Mirren
Rangers are by far the most difficult opponent St. Mirren has faced in 2018. The host will come out firing on all cylinders and will only take the foot off gas after scoring. There’s a high likelihood for this to occur before half time. Rangers will play more prudently in the last 45 minutes, but even so they should be able to create more scoring opportunities. A two-goal lead should be enough for Stephen Gerrard to send in the substitutes to prevent injuries to key players.
St. Mirren travel to Glasgow determined to protect the scoreless draw for as long as they can. Once they concede a goal, they will have to take more chances, even if this means to expose themselves to counter attacks. They do have the quality to score in the nation’s capital, but ultimately a single goal might be insufficient. Under these circumstances, Rangers 2:1 St. Mirren is the most likely score for this match.
Our recommended tip: Both to score
Bookmakers have the tendency to under price both Rangers and Celtic when they play at home against Scottish teams. This is the case today, when they play against an opponent they dominated in the past. We expect St. Mirren to play prudently, but once they concede, they will be forced to switch to offensive football. They have scored twice in the last match and created more opportunities against Dundee FC.
Rangers are the better team and they have home pitch advantage, but they have another game on their mind. The top priority is to advance to the next stage of Europa League. The desire to avoid injuries in conjunction with fatigue should present the visitors with a decent shot. Rangers had the best offensive last season, but they conceded more than any of the teams qualified for the championship round. A bet on both to score has the advantage of high odds and a chance to win even if the hosts ultimately prevail.
The head to head record is always in favor of Rangers when they play against any Scottish teams except for Celtic. St. Mirren has had a hard time winning points against this opponent regardless of venue. Ibrox Stadium is one of the last places they want to play against Rangers. That’s because they lost 13 out of 15 matches and two games resulted in low scoring draws. Not even when they had home pitch advantage were St. Mirren capable of winning more than twice in 15 attempts.
The numbers don’t add up for St. Mirren fans and they have low expectations ahead of this fixture. It’s been a while since these two teams met, but Rangers won the last four home games. On the bright side, in the most recent match, points were split, at the end of a highly contested match. A late equalizer by Morgan in the final minute of overtime brought St. Mirren a precious point at the Simple Digital Arena. With a team at full strength, well rested and highly motivated, the visitors will aim for a similar result.
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Players to watch: Alfredo Morelos & Daniel Mullen
Rangers have plenty of footballers capable of causing problems for St. Mirren. However, one strikers and out from the crowd and his name is Alfredo Morelos. The Colombian player joined the team last season after working his magic in Finland at HJK. He was their top scorer with 14 goals and has already scored in Europa League matches. This young player from Colombia has the speed, technique and the hunger for goals Gerrard needs. He will spearhead the offensive alongside Windass and he is the most likely scorer.
St. Mirren won’t try to cause a major upset in Glasgow, but rather defend the scoreless draw. That’s why they will only have one striker up front and not surprisingly, his name is Daniel Mullen. After a mediocre year last season, he scored twice in the opening match against Dundee FC. Against Rangers he will have fewer scoring opportunities and will need to make the most of these chances. He had the advantage of being only 23 years old, yet experienced enough to play in the Scottish Premier League. He played in the second division for Livingston since 2013.