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Preview: Rangers vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rangers vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Rangers and Arsenal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two giants of the British game aiming to recover from dismal pre-season defeats last time out lock horns at Ibrox as Rangers play host to old friends Arsenal on Saturday afternoon.

Steven Gerrard's men fell to a 1-0 defeat to Tranmere Rovers in their most recent encounter, while the Gunners' stint in Scotland started off miserably with a 2-1 defeat to Hibernian.

Match preview

Rangers may have made changes in the double figures at half time, but defeat to lowly Tranmere has not exactly inspired confidence within the ranks, as Gerrard's side could not recover from Kieron Morris's 39th-minute opener at Prenton Park.

The result came five days after the Scottish champions had scraped past Partick Thistle by the same scoreline, and while it is important not to read too much into pre-season results, Gerrard will be demanding more after labelling his side's attempts to stop Morris's goal "embarrassing".

The former Liverpool lynchpin has also affirmed that players are fighting for their right to wear the shirt in these pre-season fixtures, so the onus is certainly on the Ibrox outfit to follow in the footsteps of Hibs and get one over their London counterparts.

However, only a mere 2,000 fans will be present at the stadium to watch the two British powerhouses take to the field - a decision which has been met with widespread criticism - although Rangers certainly fared rather well behind closed doors in the 2020-21 season.

Expectations are high among Arsenal fans for the new season, as Arteta will not have any European football to contend with as he bids to pull together a team capable of challenging for the top four once again.

However, their preparations for the new season could hardly have kicked off in a worse way, as Hibs duo Daniel MacKay and Martin Boyle both found the back of the net against a makeshift Gunners team before Emile Smith Rowe added nothing more than a consolation effort in the 82nd minute.

Arsenal fans ought not to read too much into a pre-season defeat - especially with Arteta handing several up-and-coming starlets the chance to impress - but some of the same old problems were evident, as Arsenal were undone by a set piece and were lacking a clinical edge throughout the 90 minutes.

The warm-up fixtures do not get any easier for Arsenal either, as Arteta's side prepare to jet off to the USA to take on Inter Milan and either Everton or Millonarios in the Florida Cup, while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur both lie in wait ahead of the Mind Series.

Rangers and Arsenal go back a long way - with the Scottish side holding shares in the North London club for over 100 years before they were sold by Craig Whyte - and two goals from a teenage Jack Wilshere helped the Gunners win this fixture 3-0 during the 2009 Emirates Cup.

Rangers Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • W
  • L

Arsenal Pre-Season Friendlies form:
  • L

Team News

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor was the only member of the Rangers XI to enjoy a full 90-minute run-out in their defeat to Tranmere, while Nikola Katic and Ryan Jack continue to recover from injuries.

New arrival Fashion Sakala is still waiting to link up with the team and was not involved against Tranmere, while Alfredo Morelos remains on a break following his Copa America exploits with Colombia.

John Lundstram did not have a friendly debut to remember for Rangers, who could reinstate the likes of Ryan Kent, Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo and Cedric Itten to the first XI.

Arsenal's Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka are taking extended breaks following their Euro 2020 exploits, but Kieran Tierney is training with the squad in his homeland and may be involved at some stage.

Gabriel Martinelli will be representing Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics, but Gabriel Magalhaes was forced to withdraw from the Games due to a knee injury.

Joe Willock was not involved against Hibs on the same evening reports emerged claiming that talks over a second Newcastle United loan spell were underway, but Arteta revealed that the Englishman was absent due to a tight groin.

Teenage goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo had 45 minutes to forget on Tuesday and could make way for Karl Hein, while Nuno Tavares is in line to make his non-competitive debut for the club.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Balogun, Edmundson, Bassey; Aribo, Davis, Kelly; Hagi, Itten, Kent

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Hein; Bellerin, Rekik, Mari, Tavares; Partey, Henry-Francis; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Balogun

We say: Rangers 1-1 Arsenal

This is the true meaning of a friendly encounter between two teams who look at one another with a sense of fondness, but both managers will be demanding more after somewhat demoralising defeats.

As always, heavy rotation can be expected on both ends, and we are ultimately struggling to see a clear winner in this pre-season battle.

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