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Preview: Rangers vs. Livingston - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rangers vs. Livingston - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash between Rangers and Livingston.
By , Senior Reporter | 9mo

Rangers head into their Scottish Premiership fixture with Livingston on Saturday afternoon trailing leaders Celtic by just two points in the standings.

Livingston make the trip to Ibrox sitting in seventh place in the table, but Gary Holt's side registered a goalless draw with Celtic in their most recent outing.


Rangers


Rangers reached the international break having already played 27 competitive fixtures this season, and it was becoming increasingly clear that Steven Gerrard's squad were in need of a break to recharge their batteries.

A 7-1 victory was recorded over Motherwell in their last match, but Gerrard has openly spoken about the level of his team's performances and there is little doubting that the chance to have a rest came at the right time.

Gerrard also had the opportunity to reflect on his opening months at Ibrox, and there will be a great deal of pride with seeing Rangers competing at the top end of the table and still being able to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League.

Nevertheless, the club's next half-a-dozen games could prove to be pivotal in terms of the rest of the season, and defeats in the wrong matches could leave Rangers back towards mid-table and out of Europe.

There is a fine line between what is deemed to be success or failure at Rangers right now - even with a lauded Gerrard at the helm - but it is a scenario which the Liverpool and England legend will thrive upon and one which will only drive him to get the most out of his players over the next few weeks.

The 4-3 defeat against Spartak Moscow in Russia would have really irked Gerrard, who had only witnessed his side concede three goals on one occasion before that trip, but it also has the potential to act as the turning point for the better.

Gerrard has put together a competitive squad but the message is clear that he will not tolerate consistent under-performances, and the looming transfer window could act as a catalyst for an upturn in consistency.

Most of Gerrard's players have had their moments since his arrival in June, but only a prolonged period of positive results will keep Rangers in close proximity to Celtic and Gerrard will only demand more from his squad as the season progresses.

Recent form: LWWDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DLDWLW


Livingston


Livingston's supporters have had to wait 12 years for a return to the top tier of Scottish football and so far, they have witnessed their side make the most of competing among the best teams in the country.

There would have been fears about where the club was heading after the quick departure of Kenny Miller soon after the start of the campaign, but Holt is currently working wonders in the dugout.

The 45-year-old has five wins and three draws from his 10 games in charge in all competitions, but claiming four points from home fixtures against Rangers and Celtic has really helped the club's fanbase warm to the former Falkirk man.

Livingston are without a win in their last three league outings, but the stalemate with Celtic before the international break means that there is a considerable feeling of optimism in West Lothian.

Holt has also helped Livingston put together the second-best defensive record in the division, and conceding just seven goals in 12 matches is a significant achievement for one of the minnows in the league.

Livingston are already 14 points clear of the relegation zone and well on course to achieve their minimum objective for the campaign, but it is now up to Holt to maintain the club's position in the middle of the standings.

There is work to do in the final third, with Steven Lawless and Alan Lithgow acting as top scorer in the league with two goals, but it will not be a major concern for Holt while his defence are performing to such a high standard.

Livingston have a poor record at Ibrox, but they will regard this as their best chance to register a rare win at one of Scotland's giants and they currently possess the belief to pull off what would be considered a shock result.

Recent form: WDWLLD


Team News


Gerrard has revealed that defender Borna Barisic is closing in on a return from injury having spent almost two months on the sidelines, and the Croatian could feature in the squad this weekend.

Connor Goldson is also available after missing the win over Motherwell, but winger Ryan Kent is unlikely to come back into contention for at least another week.

Gerrard may decide to give more minutes to Gareth McAuley and Eros Grezda with one eye on the Europa League showdown with Villarreal five days later.

Livingston will be without Dolly Menga for the trip to Ibrox after the forward received retrospective action for a headbutt in the goalless draw with Celtic.

Scott Robinson could potentially be brought back into the starting lineup, although Holt could change his tactics for the trip to Glasgow.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGreger; Tavernier, Worrall, Katic, Halliday; Jack, Arfield, Ejaria; Middleton, Grezda, Morelos

Livingston possible starting lineup:
Kelly; Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow; Lawless, Bryne, Jacobs, Pittman, Burns; Robinson, Lawson


Head To Head

The two teams have not been regular foes over the past 12 years, with the clubs only participating in the same league on two occasions since 2006.

Those eight games took place in the Scottish Championship, with Rangers registering four wins and three draws before a defeat at the Almondvale Stadium at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

That 1-0 scoreline was repeated as recently as September, with Menga scoring the only goal of the game to further dent Rangers' start to the season on the domestic scene.



We say: Rangers 3-1 Livingston

Rangers were far from impressive in the games leading up to the international break, but a period of rest is likely to have benefited several members of the squad and we expect a strong showing from the home side this weekend.


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