We’ve had a few of these so far this season, so the intensity of this upcoming claim you are free to do as you please with, but it is our contention that the return to club football after the international break next weekend sees the most important fixture of Rangers’ season so far.
By a distance.
Sure, Livi have had a few bad results of late following that absolutely staggering start to the season, but they held Celtic to a well-deserved draw on their own patch before the internationals, and they comfortably beat Rangers on their own patch to bring the honeymoon period of Steven Gerrard’s reign to an arguable halt. They cannot and shall not be underestimated.
And now, having crushed Motherwell with pitiful ease a week ago, Rangers will face Gary Holt’s side in what qualifies as a curious state of form for both sides. Rangers had a patchy period prior to Motherwell – being held by Killie was surrounded by a strange win at Hamilton, a stunning one v Hearts, and a very unconvincing one at St Mirren. The win v Motherwell spelled a return to form for Rangers since that win v Levein’s side and we have to return to early October for that – so which Rangers will return from the break is frankly anyone’s guess.
And Livi, having been absolutely incredible for the early part of the season, have recently hit sticky form with a couple of 1-0 losses but then they regained momentum in taking a point from Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Now the Almondvale side sit seventh, a lowly drop from the brief foray they had into the very summit of the table (amazing how far a side falls with two losses in a row in this tight SPL), while Rangers are joint third with Kilmarnock, third alone on goal difference.
Livi can’t do much damage to the table by beating Rangers, but Rangers must win to consolidate the recent WWDWW status – a third win in a row would, for the first time under Gerrard, have Rangers on a real run of results. Hard-fought wins, two strolls, then another win at Livi, which would mean we hadn’t dropped points aside that mess when Clarke’s side rolled into Govan.
And that would be real tangible progress.
Of course team news is unclear right now, and we’ll have a full update for you soon, but it’s safe to say a win next weekend and Rangers will have some crucial momentum. And it’ll be the first time in over a year we’ve gone six league matches unbeaten (having also done six last time).
No underestimating the gravity of this match!