Five to Follow - Aberdeen LCSF

Well, we did it eleven games unbeaten in Europe, that's not bad for a side just put together and a manager in his infancy, not bad at all. Thursday night seen us take what could prove to be a very vital point.

I like many left Ibrox on Thursday a touch frustrated that we didn't convert some chances into goals, however in the big picture it is no way a terrible result. We are still top of a very tough group.

Spartak were a very well-organised side, despite current domestic form, they set out to limit the space we had, playing narrow and compact, it was clear the plan was to get a draw or hit on the counter attack. The return fixture may suit us better as the home side will be forced to be more expressive in their style, that could lead to more chances for us. 

Sunday will see Rangers head to the dump that is our national stadium when we take on Aberdeen in the league cup semi-final, we have seen off Kilmarnock and Ayr in the previous rounds and look to reach the final and give the manager his first cup final as Rangers boss. 

The big talking point has been in the planning of this fixture, it has been nothing short of a shambles from start to finish, that's even before we are once again forced to sit in an athletics ground with terrible sight lines to support our team. 
Aberdeen head into this game on the back of a 2-1 defeat to fellow semi-finalists Hearts last weekend. 

Here are my 5 storylines to follow

1 - SILENCE THE LAMBS (ALL 4 OF THEM)

So we've had every pathetic excuse in the book from the sheeps "loyal" fans as to just why they can't make a 4.30 ko, from train times to lambing season but the truth and reality are they are a just a small insignificant club. Simple. Aberdeen is a bigger city than say Newcastle, yet they can't get fulfil the ticket allocation they were desperate to get, so it means more tickets for real fans who travel far and wide to support our team. 

We have taken more supporters to Germany for a mid-season friendly, filled Hampden in the 3rd division and sold out pre-season games, not to mention all the home and away sell outs that continue. This is a massive game for us we know Aberdeen. Will raise their game from the pathetic side they now resemble, just play our game, and we will be fine. 

2 - PLAY OUR BEST TEAM 

Call me old-fashioned (many have) but I am just not a fan of playing certain players in cup games, especially at this stage of the tournament in all for playing your best players in a semi-final and that means McGregor should keep his place for me. 
Wes has done in and shown his worth to the side in the previous rounds with key stops at crucial times, the issue is not that, his attitude is commendable in this day and age if player power, my feeling is shagger is quite simply the better goalkeeper, the evidence is there. 

Games at Parkhead and Maribor away are the obvious ones that stand out, they are not the only one's for club or country for that matter, he has been the singing of the summer. After all a rising tide raises the boat. I don't particularly care if Wes and his feelings get hurt by leaving him out, he is just not capable of making some of the saves that Allan can make, that is no shame it's just stating the obvious. 

In a game where we are already without our first choice striker and Kyle Lafferty ineligible what we need is our top players we have available to play, these games can hinge on big moments and big players win big games. 

3- NO STRIKER, NO PROBLEM

This is the most fascinating selection dilemma of them all, one we are all waiting to see just what the manager has up his sleeve for the game. Of course, he could play Sadiq as the focal point of the attack, I'm just not convinced he has the physicality to cut it in our league, it doesn't mean he is a terrible player by any stretch, after all, you don't get to Roma if you don't have something about you it might just be a bad fit for us currently. 

One other factor is his confidence, not playing regularly puts a dent in any players self-belief, none more so than strikers, they rely on games and goals more than any other position I feel. 

As a passionate Englishman I'm sure, our manager would have watched his sides impressive victory over Spain just over a week ago, now while we certainly don't have that level of talent, Aberdeen are certainly no Spain. What was interested in that match was the movement in the front three, interchanging throughout the match proving really difficult for the defenders to pick up, this is where I feel we can exploit Aberdeen. 

Grezda or Middleton may be Alfies replacement in that front three or perhaps both will play?. Causing players like Logan who is not the most comfortable defending to be on their heels with his back to goal, we can use this to our advantage turn a negative into a positive by dragging the backline of Aberdeen all over the place, they won't know who to pick up and can't go man for man, even if they do get right on occasion we have the late runs of our midfielders to cause problems. 

Play fast, one, two touch football against a team like Aberdeen, and we will always come out on top. 

Rossiter, or Halliday may come in and in certain roles and Andrew Dallas has seen a promotion to the first team. 

4 - SHINNIE & WILSON 

If Aberdeen are to cause us any problems it will most likely come in the form of Shinnie or James Wilson, we must be wary of the danger they can bring. I don't know much about them if I'm honest, I only see them when we play against them. 

My message is simple. 

Play around with a bad football team, bad things can happen.  

5- LOAN STARS

Kent, Worrall and Ejaria have been outstanding for us with every passing game you see them getting better and better. Thursday was no different, all three were flawless in their displays. Worrall is forming a really good and solid partnership with Goldson, with the former Brighton man the more dominant in the air of the two, he attacks and defends the front post area so well. Kent is really key to all things good about us currently. 


PREDICTION - RANGERS 2 - 1 ABERDEEN

Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan) 

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