Rangers match preview

The big games keep on coming for Livi as they welcome Rangers to the Tony Macaroni Arena for the first time in the top flight since November 2005.

The Lions will take to the field in front of a full house at Almondvale for the first time since December 2015 as Steven Gerrard’s side travel to West Lothian for a clash between second and fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The two sides go into the game separated only by goal difference, both sides having only lost to Celtic in their opening six matches, with Gary Holt’s Lions looking to make it six games unbeaten.

With the Sky cameras in attendance, it’s sure to be a momentous occasion on Sunday so let’s look ahead to tomorrow’s match!

How have the Ibrox side done so far this season?

After a couple of trying seasons since they returned to the top flight, things are looking far brighter for Rangers under former Liverpool captain Gerrard.

Gers made it through four qualifying rounds to reach the Europa League group stages, seeing off Macedonian side Shkupi 2-0 on aggregate in the first round back in early July. Two further trips to the former Yugoslavia followed, with Osijek of Croatia (2-1) and Slovenian outfit Maribor (3-1) despatched to set up a clash with Russian side FC Ufa for a place in the round robin stage.

A narrow 1-0 home win left the tie in the balance but, despite being down to nine men, Gerrard’s side secured a 1-1 draw in Russia to become the first team to reach the group stage having started in the first qualifying round. They started the group with a highly-impressive 2-2 draw away to Villarreal courtesy of goals from Scott Arfield and Kyle Lafferty.

Their Premiership campaign has got off to a steady start with 11 points on the board courtesy of home wins over St Mirren, Dundee and St Johnstone and draws at Aberdeen and Motherwell. They have also reached the Betfred Cup semi-finals with wins over Kilmarnock (3-1) and Ayr United (4-0), where they will face Aberdeen for a place in the final.

What have the two bosses had to say?

Livi boss Gary Holt called on Livi fans to repeat the backing that helped the Lions to their goalless draw at Tynecastle last weekend, saying: “The fans were brilliant on Saturday and the players thrive off of that. They love it. There’s a proper relationship and togetherness between the fans and the players and we’ll need that backing again on Sunday.”

The gaffer also spoke of Sundays match as a testament to how far the team has come in the last two years, saying: “This is now the level the club are at – live TV games, full houses and big crowds. The players have earned the right, they’ve deserved it. That’s the mentality we want to instil in the players, that they deserve to be playing in these environments.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was full of praise for the Lions’ start to the season, saying: “They are going very well and started the season very strongly. They beat Hibs at home, and Hibs are a good team while they went to Hearts – who are flying – and got a respectable 0-0.”

Gerrard was also under no illusions about the task his side face s in their search for a first away league win of the season, saying: “We are in for a very tough game again and go in full of respect for Livingston. They go direct at times but they also try and win second balls and play when they get further up the pitch.

They are obviously very strong on set-pieces – they bombard you in your goal area with long throw-ins – but we respect that, it is their style and it is very effective for them and is working very well.”

Is there any team news ahead of the big game?

Ryan Hardie is unavailable for Livi under the terms of his loan deal from Rangers but Bobby Burns is back in contention after missing out against Hearts for the same reason.

Craig Sibbald is back in full training and available for selection so, other than Hardie, only long-term absentees Lee Miller and Raffaele De Vita miss out for the Lions.

Gareth McAuley will be in contention for his first Rangers appearance after a calf injury. Midfielder Ryan Jack (calf) sits out once more alongside long-term knee injury victim Jamie Murphy but Kyle Lafferty is available once more after being cup-tied for the midweek Betfred Cup win over Ayr.

How have the two sides fared against each other over the years?

The two sides have met 25 times since first crossing swords in a goalless draw Ibrox in August 2001, Rangers picking up 15 wins to Livi’s two with seven draws. Livi’s first win came in April 2002, a 2-1 home success secured by arguably Livi’s greatest-ever goal – Stuart Lovell’s iconic overhead kick from David Fernandez’s cross – with the second success coming almost exactly 14 years later, a 1-0 win courtesy of Craig Halkett’s header against his former club.

The Lions  have lost only two of their last eight home matches against the Ibrox side and are unbeaten in the last three so will hope to continue that encouraging form on Saturday.

What do the bookies make of Saturday’s match?

Unsurprisingly, Steven Gerrard’s side are heavy favourites to make it six wins out of six with league sponsors Ladbrokes offering just 4/9 for an away win. They make Livi a 13/2 shot for a second straight win over Rangers while a draw is 17/5.

If you think Livi can repeat that 2-1 win from 2002, that’s available at 22/1 while a goalless draw is 12/1.

The match is sold out, how can I see the game?

The match is live on Sky Sports Football (Sky channel 403, Virgin 503) – the match kicks off at 1.30pm with coverage beginning at 1pm.

If you can’t get to a TV, we will have live text commentary on our Twitter feed @LiviFCOfficial from 3pm, while extended highlights, courtesy of Roger That Productions, will be available around 24 hours after the match.

Highlights can also be seen on ‘Sportscene’, which is shown on BBC Two Scotland at 6pm on Sunday evening.

I’ve got my ticket, is there anything else I should be aware of?

Fans travelling to the match should note that only coaches and minibuses are permitted to park at the north end of the stadium. Full details of the special measures implemented for the game can be found here.

Why not leave the car at home and take the bus? Our travel partners First Scotland East are offering 20% off a West Lothian day ticket on presentation of a match ticket. Check out their website here for details of services which pass near the stadium.

If you fancy a pint or bite to eat before the game, both the Lion’s Den bar (main stand) and the Almondvale Suite (south stand) are open for both sets of supporters from 11am.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

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