The 3-0 defeat to Celtic on Wednesday may have been the first loss of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s time at the helm, but the gulf between the teams was of gigantic proportions.
They didn’t look like scoring at all, with a long-range effort from Ryan Jack the nearest they came, while at the back they had Allan McGregor to thank for keeping the scoreline semi-respectable.
Aside from a comfortable victory over fourth-tier outfit Stirling Albion, Rangers have only taken maximum points once in four games in 2021 to date.
The victory did come at Ibrox, where they’ve won all seven games under new management without conceding a single goal, but it was a narrow 1-0 success over Livingston and it’s fair to say that they’re not firing on all cylinders at present.
Hearts are 10 points clear of fourth-placed Motherwell and will no doubt represent a stern challenge to a wounded Rangers.
They’ve only actually lost one of the past four meetings between the sides, winning two of these, taking a point when they visited Ibrox back in October.
Hearts +1.25 Handicap
The visitors are W4-D1-L1 in league action since mid-December, as the sole defeat was a narrow 2-1 loss to Celtic in which they missed a penalty.
Given Rangers have won by more than a single goal in one of their past six league games, expect Hearts to push them all the way. They’ve only lost two of their 24 league games this season by more than a single goal, so should represent good value on the +1.25 Asian handicap.
The honeymoon period is well and truly over for Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his side have been accused of being too cautious.
He will be boosted by having loan signing Aaron Ramsey available to make his debut, having missed out on the matchday squad against Celtic, but the Welshman hasn’t actually played since appearing for his national side in November and lacking fitness, will likely have to settle for a place on the bench.
HEARTS +1.25 HANDICAP