The Scottish Premiership season kicks off this weekend as the top flight in Scotland gets its new campaign underway. The Scottish Premiership went on hiatus in March and chose not to restart in June. Rather, the league’s clubs and executives decided to wait for the new season in August. Celtic were crowned champions of the 2019-20 season having been ahead of the chasing pack by a large margin. Now, Neil Lennon’s team are aiming to win a 10th league title. Steven Gerrard and Rangers will hope to end their Glasgow rival’s attempts at another trophy.
While Celtic have what should be an easy game against Hamilton Academical on Sunday, Rangers must start with a more difficult test on Saturday at lunchtime. Gerrard’s side will visit Pittodrie to take on last season’s fourth-place finishers Aberdeen. The Dons may have ended the season 22 points behind second-placed Rangers, but they can certainly cause panic on matchday 1 by claiming a result.
Aberdeen twice dented Rangers’ hopes of winning the league title – or at least pulling closer to Celtic – last season. Gerrard’s side won their first meeting at Ibrox 5-0 but could only manage a 2-2 and nil-nil draw in their subsequent matches.
Can Rangers get off to a good start versus Aberdeen or will the Dons dent the visitor’s title hopes on the first day?
Rangers ended the 2019-20 campaign in second place and qualified for the Europa League second qualifying round. Rangers are due for a quick turnaround this week as they head to Germany to play Bayer Leverkusen in their second leg Europa League match. Rangers trail Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 on aggregate after the first leg.
Although Rangers finished the season 13 points off of Celtic, they had the league’s joint-best defensive record. Rangers allowed just 19 goals against while scoring 19 times. Unfortunately, their scoring came in bursts at the start of the campaign and as the Europa League got into full swing, Rangers struggled to play on all fronts.
Aberdeen finished fourth and qualified for the Europa League’s first qualifying round. The Dons continue to be a consistent side in the Scottish Premiership finishing in the top half of the table. However, it remains to be seen if Aberdeen can one day get the financial backing to make a run at the top of the table once more.
Manager Derek McInnes hasn’t led Aberdeen to a win over Rangers in their last four meetings. The Dons last win against Rangers came in the 2018-19 FA Cup. Aberdeen are unbeaten in their last two games against Rangers at Pittodrie in all competitions. Both games finished in draws.
Rangers allowed around 10 players leave the club due to expiring contracts, ends of loans, or transfers in the offseason. Gerrard was able to bring in a clutch of players. Only two of the five players brought in were signed through paid transfers. That includes 21-year-old midfielder Ianis Hagi from Genk and defender Calvin Bassey from Leicester City. Striker Jermain Defoe has also returned to the club but signed on a free transfer after leaving Bournemouth.
Gerrard is likely to be without striker Alfredo Morales. The club are in talks with French side Lille over the player’s transfer. Morales’ transfer will depend on Lille’s sale of striker Victor Osimhen. The striker’s move would trigger a domino effect of transfers.
Aberdeen have made just one signing of note this offseason as Jonny Hayes returned to the club from Celtic. Hayes signed on a free transfer after being allowed to leave Parkhead. McInnes has revealed this summer that the club are in need of selling striker Sam Cosgrove. Cosgrove may be the club’s most capable scorer but Aberdeen need to “maximise” the transfer fee they receive for him by selling now.
Rangers to win to nil - BET NOW
The clubs played three times last season before the Scottish Premiership was suspended. Rangers went unbeaten in all three games with one win and two draws. Their first game of the season against Aberdeen came at Ibrox and saw the Light Blues win 5-0. It was at a point when Rangers were at their most rampant under Gerrard. They could replicate that form on Saturday.
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Two of the three games between the clubs last season saw over 2.5 goals tallied. The only match of their three not to see over 2.5 goals was the game played in February. It was a point in the season for both teams in which players were tired and the fixtures had piled up. Rangers had 17 games finish with over 2.5 goal scored during the 2019-20 season.
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Rangers have a tricky first game of the season at Pittodrie and they mustn’t take their eyes off of the ball. On paper, Rangers are a far better team. They should get past Aberdeen and the scoreline could resemble their 5-0 win at Ibrox last September. Aberdeen could up for a fight but with little work done in the transfer market, could struggle against Rangers.
The Glasgow giants won five preseason fixtures in the build-up to the season’s kick off. They claimed wins against Hamilton, Lyon, Nice, Motherwell and most recently Coventry City. Four consecutive preseason matches ended in wins to nil for Rangers. Matchday 1 of the Scottish Premiership will certainly be different but Rangers should continue that momentum forward.
Gerrard should lead Rangers to a matchday 1 win. Rangers won’t play Celtic until matchday 11 on October 17. Rangers need to stay unbeaten, or close to it, when they head to Celtic Park. It they can remain unbeaten and keep picking up points, the Rangers will give themselves a chance of winning the league.
It all starts on Saturday as Rangers should win at Aberdeen. The Dons may keep it close early, but Rangers should pull away in the end.
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The ground that this match is being played at is the Pittodrie Stadium
This match kicks-off at 12:30 on Saturday 1st August.