Tight Call In Battle Of The League Leaders
Hearts v Rangers
The top two teams in the Scottish Championship, Rangers and Hearts, meet this weekend in what is a huge game even at this relatively early stage of the campaign…
Seven wins and a draw from their last eight league games mean that Hearts have a six point lead at the top of the Scottish Championship table, and also remain unbeaten in the league after 13 games. The Jambos’ only defeats since relegation from the Scottish Premiership have come with a much-changed XI in the Scottish Challenge Cup against Livingston and in the Scottish League Cup at Celtic.
Osman Sow is the club’s top scorer for the season with eight goals in all competitions, despite missing the last two matches with a thigh injury. Defender Alim Ozturk has scored two in his last three, including that wonder strike against Hibs in the Edinburgh derby.
Rangers lost ground on Hearts last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Alloa at Ibrox. They had previously recorded six straight wins without conceding a goal and are now nine games unbeaten. The only fixtures that they have lost this season have been against the two Edinburgh clubs.
Midfielder Nicky Law is the top scorer for the season with seven league and cup goals, including two in his last three. Kenny Miller and Lee McCulloch both have four goals. At the other end Rangers haven’t conceded a goal in over 10 hours of football away from Ibrox in a run that dates back to the end of September.
Osman Sow, captain Danny Wilson and Adam Eckersley could all return for the Edinburgh club this weekend having each returned to full training earlier this week. The game comes too early for Dale Carrick, however, while Kevin McHattie is the one likely to make way if Eckersley returns to the XI.
Rangers’ players have been dealing with boardroom strife for some time now, so ongoing off the field issues shouldn’t have too much of an effect. Richard Foster was substituted midway through the second half against Alloa last time out and is a slight doubt for this one.
Hearts won 2-1 at Ibrox on the opening day of the season thanks to goals from Danny Wilson and Osman Sow, with Nicky Law getting Rangers’ goal. That was their first meeting in three seasons, with the Glasgow side winning both games at Tynecastle during the 2011/12 SPL season.
Rangers can’t afford to lose any more ground on the league leaders, even at this early stage, but are priced at odds of 9/5 for the three points this Saturday lunchtime. Hearts are made the 29/20 favourites and the draw is priced at 12/5. A share of the spoils looks to be the best bet in the Match Odds market.
The best bet of the game, however, is the 10/11 being offered about there being fewer than 2.5 goals.
Rangers have conceded just two goals in their last nine games, including seven clean sheets, while Hearts haven’t conceded more than one goal in any of their last seven games, including four clean sheets.
The 0-0 Correct Score is a 19/2 shot and the No selection in the Both Teams To Score market is 6/5.