Steven Gerrard’s men fell to third in the league on Saturday as Aberdeen leapfrogged them, while there is now a four-point gap to bridge between themselves and Celtic before the Old Firm game on Saturday.
Although that encounter is the main focus of the week, the Gers cannot allow their concentration to waver in Perth or for an awkward midweek meeting with Hibs at Ibrox.
|Game||St Johnstone vs Rangers|
|Date||Sunday, December 23|
|Time||12:15pm GMT / 7:15am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via B/R Live.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the UK, the game will be shown on BT Sport 1 and can be streamed through the BT Sport Live app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 1||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Position||St Johnstone squad|
|Defenders||Shaughnessy, Anderson, Kerr, Gordon, Easton, Tansfer, Foster, Comrie|
|Midfielders||Nydam, Davidson, Callachan, McClean, McCann, Wotherspoon, Alston, Craig, Swanson, Scougall|
|Forwards||Kennedy, Watt, Kane, McMillan|
St Johnstone go into this encounter without goalkeeper Conor Mitchell, defender Brian Easton and midfielder Drey Wright, all of whom would have expected to start the game.
Danny Swanson and Blair Alston are set to come into the midfield, while Jason Kerr returned to full training late in the week and should start.
Possible St Johnstone starting XI: Clark; Foster, Kerr, Shaughnessy, Tanser; Swanson, Alston, Davidson, Wotherspoon; Watt, Kennedy
|Goalkeepers||McGregor, Foderingham, Robbie McCrorie|
|Defenders||Tavernier, Goldson, Flanagan, Ross McCrorie, Katic, Bradley, Barisic, Worrall, McAuley|
|Midfielders||Jack, Ejaria, Halliday, Coulibaly, Arfield, Kelly, Grezda|
|Forwards||Candeias, Morelos, Lafferty, Middleton|
Steven Gerrard has the familiar trio of long-term absentees – Lee Wallace, Jamie Murphy and Graeme Dorrans – to contend with. Additionally, Ryan Kent will miss the match and Scott Arfield is something of a worry, leaving the midfield somewhat depleted.
In defence, meanwhile, centre-backs Gareth McAuley and Connor Goldson are both worries, which could open the door to a return for Nikola Katic.
Ryan Jack will start after signing a fresh contract with the club that will run until 2021.
Possible Rangers starting XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Barisic; Coulibaly, Jack, McCrorie; Candeias, Morelos, Grezda
Betting & Match Odds
Rangers are priced as 11/20 favourites to win this game by bet365. St Johnstone are considered a 5/1 bet to win, while a draw is 3/1.
Rangers might have fallen four points behind Celtic in the Scottish Premiership standings, but they still have designs on overtaking their great rivals before New Year.
Victory over St Johnstone on Sunday would open the door to the potential of regaining top spot in the final matches of 2018, in which they face Hibs on Boxing Day before tackling Celtic at Ibrox on Saturday.
No slips, however, can be afforded against the Perth outfit, with assistant manager Gary McAllister acutely aware of the danger such a fixture can pose.
“Barring their little blip against Motherwell, St Johnstone have been on good form,” he said. “They’re keeping clean sheets. It never ceases to amaze me what Tommy Wright does through at St Johnstone, very rarely he gets money to go and build his squad or add to his squad.
“It’s the same players and they’ve done extremely well so it’s a tough opponent. We go up to Perth and it’s going to be difficult, I think it always is when we go through there. So it’s game on, and then obviously it’s Hibs coming back to Ibrox.”
St Johnstone had been on an eight-match undefeated run before losing 2-1 to Motherwell at home last weekend, with their defence especially impressive as they had kept seven cleansheets in those games.
However, they lost 5-1 at Ibrox when the sides previously met this season.
“I know the idea of revenge is used a lot in football but if we need revenge as motivation then we need to take a look at ourselves,” Wright said.
“Our focus is all on getting three points and to do that we're going to have to learn from the game back in September.
“We created chances which was obviously positive but we were too open and we were punished for it.
“We're keen to finish this year strongly before the break so we want to pick up another three points on Sunday and that's our main focus.”
Eighth in the table, Saints find themselves in a battle for the top six, but an upset victory would draw them to within four points of Rangers with a game in hand.