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Sunday 16th April 2005, 14:00 at East End Park.

PREVIEW

Just like before the games on matchday 31 Rangers face an away trip on the Sunday with the probability being that they will be trailing Celtic by 5 points after they play at home the day before. Thankfully it never transpired as such then but I doubt lightening will strike twice in that respect. With the SPL split following immediately after and the Old Firm derby the following week all 3 points is more essential than ever. We cannot afford to meet Celtic at Ibrox trailing by 4 or 5 points.

Code:
[b]SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE TOP SIX
_______________________
           P   W  D  L  F  A   GD Pts
[color=darkgreen]Celtic     32  26 2  4  74 26  48 80[/color] 
[color=blue]Rangers    32  24 6  2  66 17  49 78[/color]
[color=green]Hibs       32  17 5 10  56 46  10 56[/color]
[color=red]Aberdeen   32  15 7 10  36 30   6 52[/color]
[color=darkred]Hearts     32  13 9 10  38 31   7 48[/color] 
[color=darkorange]Motherwell 32  12 6 14  40 40   0 42[/b][/color]
Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline have been rubbish this season and along with Livi have been the poorest side in the league. They haven't won a league game in their last 7 attempts. Although they have a good manager in Davie Hay they do not have the players to compete at this level. Their early UEFA Cup exit to Hafnarfjordur was an indication of just how bad a season it would be for them and it's jsut gone downhill since.

Their last 5 SPL results:

  • 1-2 Dundee (Away)
  • 1-1 Livingston (Away)
  • 1-4 Hibernian (Home)
  • 0-6 Celtic (Away)
  • 1-1 Hearts (Home)

That does not tell the whole story though. It's impossible to think of East End Park and not think of the synthetic surface. Although they took a real hammering from Hibs the last time they played there that was a one off. They hadn't lost their previous 6 home SPL matches previous to that. Hibs' victory was in no small way down to them being a footballing side who play on the deck which is a benefit on this surface.

Dunfermline have the fourth best unbeaten record in the SPL. They have actually only lost one game moe than both Celtic and Hibs all season at home, three more than Rangers. Outside those 3 teams though they have a better home record than anyone else. Only Aberdeen, Rangers, Celtic and Hibs have taken 3 points there in the league. Rangers are looking to he the first team to do it twice this season.

RANGERS

Rangers will travel to Dunfermline glad not to have 50,000 fans on their back from the first minutes of the game. Without this pressure I'd expect them to comfortably take all 3 points, especially with the return of talisman Barry Ferguson.

Rangers have a good away record. They have dropped only 11 points all season on their travels. Amazingly 7 of those points were lost in the first 3 away games of the season at Aberdeen, Celtic and Hearts. In the 13 matches since then they have dropped only 4 points. They are last dropped points on new year's day away from home and have only lost one game away from home- that was back in August 2004. At this time they have 5 straight wins away against Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Dundee and Motherwell. They will be looking for number 6 on Sunday.

Their last 5 SPL results:

  • 2-1 Kilmarnock (Home)
  • 3-2 Motherwell (Away)
  • 2-0 Dundee (Away)
  • 1-1 Inverness (Home)
  • 2-1 Hearts (Away)

HEAD TO HEAD

Rangers have only played Dunfermline twice this season but have come out on top on both occassions. The first was a midweek trip away and a real pressure game as the media had McLeish's job on the line at the time. The second match was a walk in the park. Rangers will be looking to make it 3 out of 3 this Sunday.

SPL, Wed 27th Oct 2004
Dunfermline 1(1)-(0)2 Rangers
Brewster 22, Boumsong 47, Novo 58 (pen)

SPL, Sat 15th Jan 2005
Rangers 3(2)-(0)1 Dunfermline
Thompson 6, Andrews 38, A.Rae 64

________________________________

THE TEAM

Fingers crossed that Malcolm won't get near the team this weekend. Hopefully a rest will be given to Alex Rae and Namouchi too. I've not heard any news on Buffel but will include him in the side anyway- I'll change it tomorrow if required. If Buffel is available then we'll play a 4-3-1-2.

----------------Waterreus

-----Kyrgiakos--------Khizanishvili

Ross---------------------------------Ball

----Ricksen------Ferguson------Vignal

-------------------Buffel

--------------Prso--------Novo
________________________________

Prediction: 5-0 to Rangers.

I think we are going to see a big reaction from Rangers and Dunfermline will suffer for it. McLeish may decide to rest Novo for this one and play Thompson instead. Lovenkrands or Djordjic may be preferred to Vignal too.
 

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Not looking forward to this one bit!

our recent league performances have been awful at times + Dunfermline fighting relegation + the plastic pitch = me very worried :(
 

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Teddy Bear said:
Not looking forward to this one bit!

our recent league performances have been awful at times + Dunfermline fighting relegation + the plastic pitch = me very worried :(
Nah, get the cigar out and relax. It'll be a stroll. :thumbsup:
 

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Besides, they always lie down to us.

Far more confident about this one than tuesday and I agree with Chivo that we will be going out with massive intent on winning with a bit to spare. Ferguson and Buffel will both be back and I think many underestimate how important Buffel has been for us since he joined. He is the only playr who can really make something out of nothing on the team and will be a welcome site back in the team.

Lets bloody hope so anyway.
 

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I like the confidence guys, but i'll have to join TB in the pessimistic camp. I think we'll win, but only by a single goal. Playing Dunfermline managed by Davie Hay is a different proposition to playing them under Jimmy Calderwood. We really struggled at East End Park earlier in the season.
 

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I think Dunfermline and Livingston are the two teams we should be taking 3 points off without question. They have a good home record despite their position but they are not a good side. If we cannot beat them then there is something drastically wrong.

I would be tempted to play Burke and Lovenkrands in this one as part of a 4 man midfield and have Prso playing with Buffel behind him giving Novo a rest. If we did that and played a quick passing game on that surface we'd murder Dunfermline. If we are going to go there and play the long ball then we will struggle.
 

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another crap performance.

Although Prso :star: and Krygiakos played well

When Buffel has been played in his proper position he's looked pretty good (v Celtic and v Hibs spring to mind)) but when he's played as a winger as he was on Sunday he's totally wasted.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't know why McLeish keeps doing that. You have Chris Burke who is a right winger and a decent one at that. Against Dundee United Namouchi appeared to be playing right wing and now Buffel. Earlier in the season Eck had Novo playing there too with Burke on the left.

In Eck's defence I did read an interview with Buffel and he said he likes to start off on the right then drift in during the game to find the hole. I've tried that line before but it seems to work better for him.

When Prso scored I thought we were going to go on from there and give them a hammering- not so. Some people say we are not capable of doing that but it didn't seem to be a problem in the CIS cup semi and final not too long ago. Those don't seem to be the norm though and instead we had 80 minutes of anxiety with a 1-0 lead.

Rangers have not been playing their best football of late but then neither have Celtic. In my own opinion both sides are underperforming which makes the Old Firm game all the more open.
 
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