Ho Ho Ho
It's Xmas Eve and we have to get on our sleigh and head to the home of the bad Santa's at Ibrox to deliver our Xmas presents. Wrapped up nicely ready for delivery are no clean sheets, loads of injuries, gift goals and Richie Foran's beard, bless him. And to make matters worse, Barbara is on her way and we kick off at 12:30, yes, you read that right, 12:30 (in the afternoon).
It's a daunting task at any time of the year, but the powers that be think it's no problem to go to Govan on Christmas Eve for a wee kick about with the bears. Maybe someone should send them a calendar and a map for New Year so they can get the fixture list sorted. Anyway, the bears den it is and we just have to get on with it.
The Rangers have done as well as could be expected after their meteoric rise through the divisions, lurking in the top quarter of the Premiership. With Aberdeen fluffing their lines at Dingwall and Hearts stuttering under new boss Ian Cathro, the Gers find themselves a distant second behind Champions elect Celtic and look like being the best bet for the second spot and the Euro place that goes along with it.
It's all happening below them though as seven or eight teams vie for the right to enter the Championship. Unfortunately, one of the front runners at the moment are Inverness Caledonian Thistle. However, this can all change at the drop of a Santa hat, noticeable last weekend as County displaced Kilmarnock in the top-six for now, being the only winners from the bottom half.
Last time out the Rangers held on to beat Hamilton Accies at the Superseal Stadium thanks to a brace from Martyn Waghorn. Dougie Imrie made their keekie winkers twitch with a late strike but it was the Blues that took all three points to tuck in behind Celtic.
Our last game saw us score late again to earn a point at Rugby Park. Souleymane Coulibaly scored a contentious stunner only for Gary Warren to level matters to get us what looked like a distant point at times during the game. Credit to us for keeping the energy levels high despite suffering more injury blows with Lonsana Doumbouya, Brad Mckay and Lewis Horner all being replaced because of injury.
The Ibrox club are on a great run of results in their last nine games since losing to Celtic. Their only defeat was 2-0 at Tynecastle, but they rectified that a couple of games later by beating the Jambos at Ibrox by the same score. Three wins on the trot and five games without defeat at Ibrox sends out a grim message to Inverness that this is not going to be an enjoyable festive frolic. We have scored only two goals less than the Rangers but it's in defence where the difference is obvious as we have conceded almost twice as many as them (34 to 18). Our last result at Ibrox was a 3-0 League Cup win in October 2012. Goals from Andy Shinnie and Gary Warren were added to by a Graeme Shinnie penalty. The first encounter this season was won by a stunning Kenny Miller volley as Inverness offered their visitors the freedom of the park. Our generosity knows no bounds.
It looks as though we withdraw our attacking intent when we go on the road and remove Mulraney, Doran, and King looking to fill the midfield with more bodies instead. Problem with this is that we can't buy a clean sheet either and once we start chasing the game it's difficult to see where the goals are going to come from. Our one paced midfield has to work harder and will need to get up to speed quickly at Ibrox or they will be overrun.
Injuries are rearing their ugly head once more with three players limping out of Rugby Park. Lewis Horner took a more than robust challenge and will be out for a couple of months with knee damage. Brad Mckay suffered a bleeding nose on top of his sore shins courtesy of Graeme Shinnie against Aberdeen and Lonsana Doumbouya was singled out for some rough treatment. It was good to have Liam Polworth back though, and sooner than expected as well, so that's a bonus. Keeper crisis is ongoing with both still suffering in silence. Kev McNaughton will be out for months and David Raven till at least the end of January. Scott Boden and Alex Fisher are ready for action.
Mark Warburton can look forward to this one with less pessimism. The Joey Barton revolution looks like it's over. Apparently he likes a bet and he is set to join Burnley again. Jordan Rossiter and Nico Krancjar will miss out but Matt Crooks, and Josh Windas should be available for selection.
tm4tj prediction:- I'm expecting the worst to be honest and fully expect us to be propping up the league by the time 2017 comes along. We are dangerous when the chips are down but if our heads go down as well we could be on a steep learning curve here. We have taken points from Ibrox before but will need to be at our best and cut out the slackness. I'll happily take a point now although I fear that is more a wish than a prediction.
Interesting times ahead and we could do with more attacking intent, drive in midfield and a no nonsense defender. The Xmas wish list will be sent to Santa, I hope he has the presents that Richie requires, although we will maybe have to wait until the January sales to get our bargains.
I'm not sure it will be a Whyte Christmas at Ibrox, but it could be a white Christmas in the Highlands.
Rock Star Rod, AKA Naelifts has this Xmas message for everyone................