Rangers produced one of the finest performances of the season with a Friday night thumping of Hibs in Edinburgh. One of the criticisms of the team recently was our performance levels dipping after strong starts and not being able to rekindle that high standard in the latter part of games, but this game saw us play a full 90 minutes of solid football. Whilst the highlight for Hibernian seemed to be a culinary experiment that was well received online, Rangers had many excellent displays on the park, setting our fans up for a lovely Christmas.
Allan McGregor – 7
As easy a night as a Rangers goalkeeper is going to get, where he really only had one save to make, tipping a Boyle shot round the post. I’m sure he spent most of his time planning how he intends to spend his Christmas Day. I wonder if he has his presents thrown at him, extra practice maybe?
James Tavernier – 7
Without having a significant effect on the match, Tavernier continued to produce what we know he can both going forward and also in a defensive sense. It’s interesting that he seems to be allowing Barisic to take the majority of set pieces now, which in turn is taking pressure off of him so that he can focus on other parts of his game. If this is a deliberate ploy, then it is an excellent piece of man management from the coaching staff, or indeed Tav himself.
Connor Goldson – 7
Hibernian did not cause our side any real danger and thus both our centre halves really could not have asked for an easier evening in regard to their prime directive.
Nikola Katic – 7
Borna Barisic – 8
On the end of a frankly ridiculous challenge from the thug that is Ryan Porteous, yet he got back up, dusted himself down, and he even looked like he was taunting the Hibs fans (he quite likes doing that to opposition fans now)! It continues to warm my heart seeing how good his set piece deliveries are, how consistent they have been of late, and again he put in a proper defensive shift as well.
Scott Arfield – 7
It was his header that set up Defoe’s goal, and it made me think that the only thing missing from his game that would make more people take notice is some goals. He has been described by teammates as the best performing midfielder of the last few weeks, and the performance level of the side coinciding with him moving into that #8 role should not be seen as a coincidence. If he can find the net from these positions, he will be one of our best players without question.
Ryan Jack – 8
We really thought that his role was going to be that which Arfield is currently performing for us, and that he should not be used in any other way. But as a holding midfielder he has really come on leaps and bounds. He is always doing everything he can to win the ball back, is smart in his use of the ball, and is no nonsense. He even sets up goal number two with a foray forward and cut back for Aribo. The fact he has improved so much in this role should not go unnoticed in the overall conversation of how good Ryan Jack has become this season.
Glen Kamara – 8
Much better from Kamara, bombing up and down the field, strong in the challenge, and doing what he is really good at. I’ve talked before about the big game mentality he seems to thrive on, and this is a bigger game in regard to “rivalry” compared to other teams, but what he needs to do is transfer this level to the games against Kilmarnock/Hamilton/Ross County etc to really make it impossible to not play him week in week out.
Joe Aribo – 9 – Man of the Match
Two pieces of outstanding attacking play really summed up how much Aribo has come on since taking ownership of the right wing spot. His closing down of their keeper, so early on in the match mind you, to set up the opener showed a determination that we maybe had not seen in a while prior to this run. And his finish, first time, from Jack’s ball showed the true level of class he possesses. He has two players behind him in Arfield and Tavernier, who have both improved on their defensive games in particular, and this allows Aribo the freedom to express himself. And he is an expressive player who, without inhibitions, can make a big impact on a game.
Jermain Defoe – 8
I had absolutely no fear whatsoever about Defoe starting this game in the absence of Morelos, and his goal in the second half justified my thoughts. It was amazing that he was given such space in the penalty area in the first place, but the chest down and first time finish was as easy as walking for him. And he barely had to look at the goal either, he is so used to being in that position. Outwith the goal, I thought he did a lot of good work off the ball to allow the wingers space to come inside. Really good shift.
Ryan Kent – 8
Given he has maybe found it harder the last couple of weeks to get a foothold on a game, the way he takes his goal so early on is rather magnificent. First time, straight and true, and immediately his confidence was back. Post goal, he was causing the Hibs defence no end of bother, and this was an ideal time for him to get back on track. Delightful stuff from him.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
Came on at a point where the game was done and Hibs just didn’t want embarrassed (more so than what they already where). I think Ojo needs more time than the 15 minutes he got to bed into a game and make an impact, which isn’t really helpful for someone who is likely to be used as an impact sub for now.
Brandon Barker – 6
Thought he showed one or two decent flicks in his cameo, it was just funny to see Hibs fans get even more annoyed seeing a former player come on for us! As great a night as this was for us, it was a woeful one for the locals of Leith!
Greg Stewart – 6
Interesting that he came on for Jack, looked as though the team changed to a 4231 at that point. We were perhaps trying to stomp our heel down on their throats and score a few more, sadly that was not to be the case.