St Mirren vs RangersScottish Premiership, KO: 12:15 Aug 25, 2019, Simple Digital Arena
THIS is the kind of game Rangers must win if they're to become serious title contenders in Steven Gerrard's second season as boss.
In their final league game before hosting Celtic in the first Old Firm showdown of the season, it's imperative that Gerrard's side don't lose any ground on their rivals.
But they will face a big test of character and squad depth with the trip to Paisley coming hot on the heels of a trip to Poland to face Legia Warsaw in the Europa League play-offs.
Gerrard has spoken several times about the improved quality in his ranks after adding nine new faces to last season's squad. And he should make a few changes in Paisley after their Thursday night exertions.
The Ibrox boss will be wary of making too many alterations, though, after St Mirren's impressive start to the Premiership campaign.
It took Jim Goodwin a while to bring in fresh faces and that had an impact on their Betfred Cup group campaign, with the Buddies crashing out after losing to Dunfermline and drawing with lowly East Kilbride and Albion Rovers.
That had many fans fearing the start of a league campaign which would see them face Hibs on the road before hosting Aberdeen and Rangers.
But Goodwin's side, reinforced by the arrivals of Sean McLoughlin, Ilkay Durmus, Sam Foley and Jon Obika, were unlucky to lose at Easter Road as Scott Allan scored a late winner.
They then defeated the Dons 1-0 in Paisley when Aberdeen were midway through a Europa League tie with Rijeka so St Mirren fans will be hoping they can now do the same thing with Rangers.
The Buddies added another new face earlier this week in the shape of former Northampton striker Junior Morais but it's at the back where they have made the biggest improvements. However, they will face their toughest examination yet against a Gers side who have been scoring for fun.
Under 2.5 goals is 29/20 with Marathonbet and I like the look of that as I can see this being quite tight. It finished 2-0 to Rangers when they came here last season but Gerrard's side were made to sweat with both goals coming in the last 10 minutes. The outcome could be similar this time and I like the look of draw half-time/Rangers full-time which is 16/5 with BetVictor.
The Ibrox side won 17 penalties last season, including four in one game against St Mirren at Ibrox. They have already been awarded two in this campaign and Rangers are 11/4 with Paddy Power to score a penalty which looks decent value.
Hold off on having a goalscorer punt until you see what kind of team Gerrard fields and if Alfredo Morelos or Jermain Defoe gets the nod to start up front. For St Mirren, try former Hamilton forward Tony Andreu, who is 9/2 with Paddy Power to net at any time.
This Scottish Premiership match between St Mirren and Rangers will be played on Aug 25, 2019 and kick off at 12:15