Our side travelled to Motherwell looking to get back to winning ways in the league, and boy oh boy we did just that, with a fantastic win at Fir Park. The energy and commitment levels carried over from our excellent win against Willem II and ‘Well tried to be as expansive as our Dutch opponents and the result was just as comprehensive. We changed some personnel, with players getting a rare opportunity to impress, but I would certainly say that every single one of our players on the park who started the game, as well as many of the subs, did themselves justice and then some. Two penalty decisions in the first half, both of which are absolutely penalties, and a magnificently worked goal killed the game in the first half, and although it took a while for us to score the goals in the second half, the fact it came from a player under inexplicable pressure from some quarters made it feel all the sweeter. An unfortunate concession late on was the only dampener on a delightful day, which admittedly could have gone the other way had Motherwell been awarded a penalty of their own, the first claim being one that we can count as being fortunate over, not the other ones though as ‘Steelmen’ would want you to believe. At the start of the season we wanted to see our team scoring plenty of goals in games like this, against “jobbers”, and if recent evidence is anything to go by, it looks like we are now seeing this attitude now showing in our side.
Up next is a massive test against Turkish giants Galatasaray. Although they are not the same quality as the side at the turn of the millennium, they are still a squad that contains many talented individuals. But that is exactly the same as us. We have great talent in our ranks, and a team that is on great form. If we can replicate these last couple of displays, alongside the passion we showed against the likes of Porto and Feyenoord, then we have a real chance.
Here is how you rated our players after our Fir Park victory.
Allan McGregor – 6.7 (6)
Motherwell didn’t really test Allan McGregor over the course of the match. Credit for that goes toward the defence in front of the keeper, but any time Motherwell tried to create anything, it was dealt with comfortably by the keeper. Nothing flashy or stand out about his performance, and when it came to the goal, there is nothing that can be done about it from his point of view I feel. His inclusion in this game confirms the manager is thinking similar to the fans regarding our goalkeepers. I would suggest he will likely be in nets for the next run of important matches for our side.
James Tavernier – 9.0 (9) – Man of the Match
Six goals in six games. Our captain has been on an excellent run of form of late and he once again put in a superb display to help us toward this thumping victory. Two penalties in the first half, awarded correctly via the laws of the game, and both were expertly taken. The first in particular is one that no keeper is going to save. As well as the goals, I thought Tav led the side really well and kept driving the team forward, demanding more attacking threat and leading the way in many respects regarding that. He is showing the hunger that we demand in games like this, do not settle for a simple 2 goal victory.
Connor Goldson – 7.0 (7)
One part of his game that I’ve always been a fan of is the diagonal balls played to Borna Barisic by Goldson. And even when it’s not Borna, he was still able to play these balls and land them at the feet of Bassey. Any attacking threats were reasonably dealt with by Connor, nothing that made you either gaze in awe nor have your heart in your mouth. On this day, however, he did not stand out as much as his defensive partner.
Filip Helander – 7.3 (7)
He’s such a classy defender. We have often talked about who partners Goldson as he is the main centre back, but surely there comes a point where that dynamic shifts and we talk about the man who partners Helander? That is in no way a slight against Goldson, it is all about how much of a comforting presence Big Fil is. His tackles are so well timed, especially in the box, and he makes good decisions about when to dive in and (more importantly) when not to. Given he was subbed off fairly early in the game, I would imagine Gerrard holds Helander in a similarly high regard and wants him ready for the big challenge on Thursday.
Calvin Bassey – 7.1 (7)
We did have a suspicion that Bassey may see some starts given Borna has looked shaky of late. This was the ideal kind of game for him to feature in, and Calvin took this real opportunity really well. For a young guy, his running on the ball at speed is really good, he is strong and it is going to take a few players to eventually bring him down. This is his weapon that he has already honed, and from a defensive stand point there was nothing that made you feel particularly worried either. He has a great chance to learn from other players around him, the defensive guile of Helander and Goldson. The attacking intent of Tavernier. The dead ball and crossing ability of Barisic. If he is able to harness these aspects too, this player who has looked more and more comfortable in the Rangers role per game, has very exciting potential.
Scott Arfield – 8.0 (8)
The moment that immediately comes to mind when looking back on Arfield’s day was the brilliant pass that led to the second goal. It’s not the go to aspect of his game, but this pass was one that had it been performed by a midfielder from Hibs then the Scottish media would be paying a lot more attention to it. Maybe that don’t do this because what always stands out even more in every game he is starting lately is his energy and willingness. What I noticed a lot here was, whenever one of the attackers was lagging behind, whether it be Alfie who would be down following a challenge for instance, but Arfield would push up and cover that striker or wider position. Unlike when he was seemingly only a bench player, that versatility when starting is a real benefit to both him and us, and he currently is playing far too well to consider putting him back to that role on the subs bench.
Steven Davis – 7.4 (8)
Great dictation of the game yet again. When you think about the last four games that he has played, going back to the Dundee United match, it just shows how crucial it is for him to get this right. The one game where he was not able to produce this was Hibs, a game we struggled in much more than the other ties, all of which were helped by the driving force of the Northern Irish star. He has been playing a lot of games as a result, and it is really important that we use him wisely over the next few months, especially given his national side will still be keen to get the most out of him as well.
Glen Kamara – 7.1 (7)
I wanted to pay a lot more attention to Kamara’s game here, as it seems a lot of fans have been rating him higher than I have been of late. The thing I noticed a lot more as a result was Kamara’s movement in the midst of play, not on the ball, but how he drags opposition players away to allow more space. I saw someone online compare his level of importance to that of Brahim Hemdani. Although very different in style, what I was seeing in this game was showing why he is getting deserved praise. On top of this, I actually thought his use of the ball was a lot better today too. So, in the end, I’m very glad that I paid more attention to him here.
Jordan Jones – 7.5 (8)
I would suggest that Jones’ inclusion was the biggest surprise of the starting line-up. He seemingly did enough in Holland, off the back of more effort in training, to merit an opportunity to prove his worth to the team in a game that fans believed he was brought in to flourish. Thankfully for him, Motherwell played in such a way that allowed him to run at the defence, exactly what he wants to do, and the space they afforded him when he put the ball into the net was criminal from their perspective. But what a finish. Great pace, slotting it past the keeper off the post. I liked the fact he kept going and kept running at the defence, despite not getting much more joy. If he can just work on his awareness of who is in better positions to play a pass to, he will be a very handy option indeed.
Alfredo Morelos – 7.0 (7)
No goals, but the chemistry with his mate Jones was really positive. He also is important for the second goal as well, dictating the move, dragging the Motherwell back line forward, before Arfield and Jones did the rest. Don’t think there were any frustrations over him to speak of, a straight forward day at the office, which was only lacking in the ball in the back of the net for him. He got the chance to rest up for the game against Galatasaray, which is probably one of the best things to come from this game, the fact he will be fighting fit, because he is vital for a game like this. He has done it for us in Europe before. I certainly believe he will do it again.
Ryan Kent – 7.0 (7)
Like Morelos, there wasn’t a goal or great assist or supreme piece of skill to speak of. Nevertheless he was still plenty involved, making himself a player who will find himself across the entire forward line, as he is so comfortable in doing. Much like Morelos as well, he got the chance to rest up prior to our Europa League Play Off qualifier. He has the potential to run the show at Ibrox. As we know, he is a player for the biggest of occasions. We would be very grateful if we could see that from him against the Turkish giants.
Leon Balogun – 5.8 (6)
Really good to see him back featuring, adding even more to our defensive solidity and options in that regard. It’s going to be a hard ask for him to break into that back two, but knowing he is there and ready to come in when needed is brilliant. You can’t ask for much more as far as a third choice centre back is concerned.
Cedric Itten – 7.5 (8)
The Swiss Target Man finally has those goals that we all knew would come when he would get the chance to play for longer. His first goal is a lovely one, well controlled before smashing it on the half volley. You should also take into account his movement in the build up, something we knew he was good at given the “wide 9” discussions of before. His second is also great but more from an opportunistic point of view. It’s rather amazing a man of his size can go under the radar in the box like that and tap the ball in from close range. The delight on his face having got those goals was also so great to witness, and as time goes on and it’s more likely that Morelos will stay, having those two battling for the striker spot is starting look like a brilliant place to be.
Ianis Hagi – 5.6 (6)
Game was done by the time he arrives on the scene, but you have to say that Gerrard not starting him in this game was definitely the correct decision, both in terms of form but also his playing style would have been less effective as total pace. In the right kind of games, he can still be vital for us, and I would suggest that Thursday could well be that kind of game, against a club he knows ever so well. He will want to show how good he is in that match, I fully expect him to start and to perform so much better.
Jermain Defoe – 5.2 (6)
Even when we have smashed five goals, I still half expected Defoe to join in with the scoring exploits, it was not to be however. Nothing really to note about his day, but I would raise the question to you to consider because I am unsure of the answer myself. Does this Defoe work better as a lone striker or with a partner? If the latter, is Itten or Morelos (or Roofe?) the best partner option for him?
George Edmundson – 4.4 (5)
Sadly his only notable moment of this appearance will be the own goal, a situation he could do very little about given the ferocity of the ball that landed on his forehead. A trickier time of late for ‘Fridge’, but all the best players learn from mistakes and tougher periods of form and become better for the experience.