With our final game before another international break (ARGH!) we travelled to Almondvale for another test against a robust Livingston side. Seen by many as a game that we would need to take seriously, given other results that have taken place at that stadium in the past. We looked prepared for the battle, and won the day with two well worked goals. Our side did not look rattled, our fans were as always in full voice, and we could go into the next couple of weeks only hoping that our excellent run of form of late will continue on the sides return to action.
Allan McGregor – 7
This was another afternoon for McGregor where he could spend most of the time either talking to himself, joining in with the Union Bears or planning a few days away in Marbella. Obviously, being the professional that he is, he was still alert to any potential danger that the Livi attack may have posed, but it’s another clean sheet to add to the tally.
James Tavernier – 7
Again this felt like a more quiet afternoon for Tavernier, but in his case it was all about sticking to the basics which I think he did well. For a professional, it must be tough to find a way out of a slump, but I guess one way of doing so is to have a few games like this where he lets others take on more responsibilities.
Connor Goldson – 9 – Man of the Match
Let’s take this opportunity to praise the impact that Connor Goldson has on our side. The past few games I think we have seen the very best of the English centre back, that may well be down to the confidence he gathers having an experienced defensive partner, and in this game in particular, he gave Livingston’s only threat Lyndon Dykes, who caused us issues the last time we visited, absolutely no joy on this occasion. He is a dominant presence who, when confident, can really give opposition attackers no joy and although his long range passing can sometimes frustrate, he is much more capable of pulling off a long diagonal than what many may even realise.
Filip Helander – 8
This has been a great month or so for the Swedish international. He was on hand to assist Goldson when required here, and it seemed like he won every single aerial challenge he went up for, that is by far one of his strongest qualities. This was night and day from the League Cup Quarter Final tie, and it says a lot that the clamour for Nikola Katic to come back into the side seems to have calmed, which can only be down to the calming influence of Filip Helander.
Borna Barisic – 9
There we were talking about someone really settling into the side, but here is a prime example of how you turn your Rangers career around, and yet again this was a superb performance from another international defender in our ranks. His runs were brilliant and incisive. He did not shy away from hammer thrower challenges. He was incredibly unlucky not to get a goal, laws of physics seemed to be defied in order to deny him that goal (on his birthday as well!). But the real highlight from his game was the assist for our second goal. His pass was perfectly weighted and could not have been placed any better for Morelos to do the rest. I’ve said exactly the same thing about a Barisic assist in the not too distant past, so this is not a fluke we are talking about here, this is pure ability, which Borna is now showing in abundance.
Glen Kamara – 8
The last three games have really showed off the very best of Glen Kamara, and it is little surprise the figures that are being talked about that would be required in order to prize him away from us. He isn’t a passer, but when others around him are a lot better at that aspect of the game, it’s perfectly acceptable for him to be more about dribbling and raw power. His impact on the game is obvious though, that level of class and being a ‘Jack of all trades’ is a massive advantage to us. And I t’s nice to see that he is just as ideal for games like this as he is for nights like Porto.
Ryan Jack – 7
A bit like Tav, there was a quiet effectiveness about his performance here. His passing was simplified and caused no bother for the team, and he was another player who gave as much as he got when it came to the more physical side of the game, not that there was any doubt that he would do that anyway. He played the Davis role and would comfortably drop back into the defence whenever required.
Joe Aribo – 8
In a much more literal sense, this was a return to the scene of the crime for Joe Aribo, and you maybe wondered how he would react to returning to face the side where he suffered that nasty head injury. Well, he reacted in the best way possible, smashing the ball into the net to grab our opener. It was a really good finish from 20 yards, he really gave it the beans, and I really liked how he was running off the ball to set himself up perfectly for the strike when he received it. In fact, throughout the game I thought Aribo pushed forward and looked an attacking threat for the majority. A fine shift indeed.
Scott Arfield – 7
A lot of criticism has come Arfield’s way so far this season, due to the fact that he hasn’t been close to the level of form he showed last season, but let’s give him credit for his impact in this game. He plays the right kind of pass for Aribo to score, and he used the space well when it was afforded to him, which is something he is always going to do because he is a smart player. It is little coincidence in my mind that we got a performance which was much more like the thing after a few games where he was given a rest. The only worry now is whether he will revert back to the less good performances after the international break, and if that is the case, then when (if at all) is the right time to have a conversation with him about the impact that international football might be having on his game?
Alfredo Morelos – 8
I really have run out of things to say about how good Morelos is for us, this was another game where his presence was undeniably impactful. His goal would best be described as…cheeky. He doesn’t smash the ball in or anything like that, he just sees the narrow gap and cutely passes the ball into that corner, which really settled the game as a contest. Even when he isn’t completely dominating a game, he has had more dominant performances than this one, although that is no criticism of his game here whatsoever, he still comes up with these magic moments which fills our hearts with joy, especially with that cheeky smile of his!
Ryan Kent – 7
‘Unlucky’ would be the best word to describe Kent’s day I think. He looked sharp, yet nothing really came off for him, although he does play a part in the opening goal. And his game was ended way too prematurely due to a knock he took early in the second half which, thankfully, doesn’t seem to be any more sinister than him having to come off early in the second period. It’s football, it’s bound to happen, and I’m sure he will be raring to get back to it once the team get back playing again.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
Although he made a lot of runs down the left hand side which, on another day, might have lead to some promising moments, here they did not lead to anything. Was maybe a bit disappointed that he never attempted to cut inside and take on a shot or two toward the end when the game was done, I think fans would have been more forgiving of him for trying that sort of thing at that point certainly.
Jermain Defoe – 6
He was in the box for a few opportunities but the ball never fell his way for him to have a strike at goal which, I’m certain, would have led to another goal had he been set up.
Greg Stewart – 6
One man who ABSOLUTELY should have set Defoe up was Greg Stewart! Good run down the right, he is in on goal but Defoe is in great space to receive a pass that would have led to a third goal. But Stewart takes on the shot which goes wide the greedy bugger! I say this in jest of course, I’m pretty sure I would have tried the shot as well!
Player ratings from a wet and windy night against Livingston, with Rangers coming out on top.