'˜Goals, cards and dodgy refereeing' '“ Hibs v Rangers journalists' predictions
Only one of us predicted a Hibs win against Celtic and Anthony '˜Mystic Meg' Brown has been basking in the glory. Will he, and the rest of the team, get it right though as the second half of the Old Firm visit Easter Road in quick succession?
Patrick McPartlin: Hibs caused something of an upset by beating Celtic last time out, rather comfortably in the end, with several first-choice players out injured. Rangers, on the other hand, huffed and puffed a bit in beating Hamilton 1-0 at Ibrox. The Light Blues will have Alfredo Morelos available again for the trip to the Capital and while his influence – and goal-scoring prowess – can’t be overlooked, Steven Gerrard’s side have flattered to deceive on the road this season. Hibs have more than enough in the tank to beat Rangers, especially with the visiting fans’ numbers reduced, but it could be a big ask after the effort put in to beating Celtic. I can see both teams scoring, but I don’t think there will be much in it. Prediction: Draw.
Craig Fowler: Positivity is once again coursing through green-and-white veins after the 2-0 win over Celtic. It wasn’t so much the result as the performance that indicated their swagger is back, as Neil Lennon’s men thoroughly deserved all three points against the reigning champions. As poor as Celtic were, there’s no guarantee Rangers are going to be any better. They’ve been poor away from home in Scottish football for the majority of this season and without the injured Ryan Kent they lack an attacking threat who can properly support the returning Alfredo Morelos, who missed the last two games through injury. Stop the Colombian and there’s few in-form Ibrox attackers who could pick up the slack. Prediction: home win and a four-day Old Firm double.
Joel Sked: Football can be a remarkable business at times. A disgruntled fan base full of pessimism one week then a few days later a complete change in attitude. Many Hibs fans were not confident going into the game against Celtic on Sunday even more so when Steven Whittaker was playing right-back. However, the veteran was excellent in a fantastic collective performance as Hibs defeated the champions comfortable and deservedly. It showed that this squad has a high ceiling, capable defining displays. Opponents Rangers have found goals hard to come by of late as opposition teams defend deep and compact. It will be different at Easter Road with Hibs playing more proactively and aggressively, plus a huge test for Efe Ambrose and Ryan Porteous against Alfredo Morelos. Another classic could be on the cards. Score draw.
Neil McGlade: A couple of weeks ago Hibs fans were fearing the worst as they took a glance at the festive fixture list. It looked set to be a doom and gloom Christmas for the Hibees. However, back-to-back victories, particularly Sunday’s win over champions Celtic, has seen that early-season optimism make a welcome return. The Easter Road side outplayed Celtic from 1 to 11 where it was as impressive a performance over the Glasgow outfit for many a season. The players had an air of confidence that had gone missing during October and November. Tonight poses another tough test despite Rangers’ struggles away from Ibrox this season. Alfredo Morelos is back for Steven Gerrard’s outfit and I don’t think you can underestimate his influence. Draw.
Mark Atkinson: I’m going to be a doom-merchant for the hosts here. I fancy Rangers to win this one. Sunday’s win will have taken a lot of energy out of Hibs and it’s never easy to play both halves of the Old Firm in the space of four days. Rangers will be more potent than Celtic. Alfredo Morelos is back and no matter how much opposition players, fans and managers detest him, he’s a really handy striker. Nullify him and Hibs have a great chance, but I think it’ll be his night in a firecracker of a game. I’m plumping for goals, cards and some dodgy refereeing calls – and unfortunately a Rangers triumph.
Anthony Brown: A hard match to predict and one that could easily go either way by the odd goal. Hibs will be buoyant after Sunday’s win over Celtic and they generally excel in big matches under the Easter Road lights. But Rangers are top of the league and unbeaten in their last couple of visits to Leith. They showed their resilience by beating Hearts at Tynecastle with ten men earlier this month and Steven Gerrard’s team are likely to prove a similarly tough nut to crack on this trip to the other side of the Capital. Prediction: Draw.