We are a team that likes a 2-0 win victory, and our fourth win by that score line in a row saw us extend our lead at the top of the Premiership table. With our city neighbours dropping points up north earlier on in the day, the feeling amongst the support was one of high expectancy that we would make a real statement in this game, win handsomely and pile the pressure on that lot. The start to the game was excellent, two up in the first 20 minutes and playing very nice stuff on the Ibrox park. The rest of the half, and indeed the rest of the game, saw less of that high intensity and more of a back and forth type game where we could not convert the chances created and had to work harder at the back to keep the opposition score at zero. Football is a funny sport in that way. If you offered our fans an easy enough 2-0 win at kick off, the vast majority would have absolutely taken that, yet those same fans will still have a level of disappointment over the manner of the win!
But what a great run we have been on. And really, our start to the season has been absolutely excellent. 16 games played, 14 won and no defeats. We have a squad that can be utilised a lot better now, we made a number of changes from Thursday and our team still looked very strong. It’s hard to find many faults in what is currently happening for our team. And combining that with the turmoil at their place…it’s a good feeling at the moment.
Here is how you rated our players after our win over Livingston.
Allan McGregor – 7.0 (7)
If you were going to pick one of three games that McGregor was going to be busiest in out of Celtic, Standard Liege and Livingston, I’m not sure anyone would have picked this game as the most sweat inducing. A few occasions McGregor had to dive at the ball when it fell loose in the area, it certainly kept him more active than the last couple of matches. Another clean sheet however!
James Tavernier – 8.0 (8) – Man of the Match
The quality of his assist for the second goal is awesome. It’s kind of a cross but at the same time more of a lobbed through ball. However you want to call it, it is a great ball and so well finished. The amount of goals he is involved with is exceptional. Without looking at the actual stats and numbers for that, it’s obvious that he is always involved in adding goals, and makes important contributions to keeping the scoreline down at the other end.
Connor Goldson – 6.8 (7)
Was fortunate not to put the ball into his own net when his attempted intervention deflected onto the far post. For that to be the overriding memory of him from this game may suggest that it was not as impressive a performance. The reality is although it was not as outstanding as his last domestic match, he still helps us get the result and another game without conceding, and was important in his aerial duels.
Filip Helander – 7.1 (7)
You’ll always get that personified calmness when Filip Helander is in the side. Simple work done simply, with little fuss, but the team stats when he is involved are staggering. The game against Hibs was truly the outlier and the clean sheet record that we are compiling for this season has much credit toward the Swede. The aura that surrounds him at the moment is shining brightly.
Calvin Bassey – 7.2 (7)
As expected he starts the match and, as expected, he performs very well I thought. Comfortable both in defence and bringing the ball forward, looking to get balls into the area from wide (more so through cut backs than fancy looking crosses, I’m not sure that is really his game) and we got a few ‘Bassey Bursts’ as I would like to call them, when he drives forward at speed with the ball. The fact that Borna was fit enough to be on the bench, yet Steven Gerrard still went for Calvin Bassey, shows a real confidence in the young man.
Ryan Jack – 7.2 (7)
In a different role to the one he played against Standard, a far more common role for him last season this time. Again he looked a bit more like the player we know he is capable of being, a couple of forward drives into the box and testing their keeper on a couple of occasions. Perhaps both of the more defensive midfielders didn’t quite dominate their area like they have done before, leading to the game being a bit more turgid as a result.
Steven Davis – 7.0 (7)
And as we have said before, when Steven Davis plays and plays well, Rangers are always a far better watch. As much as Davis was not terrible, it was more simple this time around. He does the minimum expected in that area, but what he does best when setting a high tempo gets lost especially in the second half. Had Livingston grabbed a goal to make things a bit more tense, it would have been interesting to see his reaction to that in particular.
Joe Aribo – 7.1 (7)
Back in the starting line up and he very quickly gets in amongst the goals. A lot of the credit should go to how it is set up, but that is all about being in the right place at the right time from Joe to knock the ball into an empty net. He seemed to pop up in a few places, either in a midfield three or an attacking midfield trio. The beauty of Aribo is he can do both just as well, and when you consider he is maybe slightly further down the pecking order at the moment based on how well our midfield has been, he is an amazing option as a back up as it stands. Although I cannot see that back up status lasting long for him.
Ianis Hagi – 7.3 (8)
Better. Much better actually. And I wonder if this is down to who he is playing alongside. With a striker who is going to spend a lot more time waiting to pounce in the box, Hagi suddenly had a bit more space to breath in the attacking third of the pitch, and this meant he was able to play that bit more. He nearly set up said striker in the build up to the first goal, but it’s his presence of mind to play that ball quickly across the box to the unmarked Aribo that really makes that goal. He kept on looking to make those key passes afterward, just a far more involved looking performance. Could it be that it’s dependant on who is around him to determine when he plays at his best? If that is the case, is that worrying?
Jermain Defoe – 7.5 (8)
300 club goals in your footballing career. There are not many who can boast such a record. But throughout his playing days, Jermain Defoe just scores goals and plenty of them. It was a fine goal to bring up that milestone, receiving the excellent ball from Tavernier, a first time side footed effort with his weaker foot just looked so nonchalant but of course it is always harder than it may look when JD does it. Having him fit and ready to play from the start in a game like this is why he is not involved in European matches, if he is going to score in every game he comes into during this busy period, that is a masterstroke.
Ryan Kent – 6.4 (6)
Another game without end product for Kent, and this time he was noticeably more quiet, almost as though he is now aware of his lack of output. There were times that he would lose the ball in a very uncharacteristic manner for him. It is still fair to say that he should be starting games as he is so unique compared to anything else we have at our disposal. But, if the results were to turn and there was no uplift in performance from him, that opinion within the support could well change.
Kemar Roofe – 5.5 (6)
Right. Did you shout “shoot!” every time he touched the ball. No? Yeah, neither did I. Ok maybe I did, but you did too! His inclusion wasn’t enough to bring a spark to what was a turgid game by that stage.
Cedric Itten – 5.4 (5)
Is it maybe a surprise that Itten didn’t start this game? Is it a concern that he cannot lay down a starting spot at the moment? Is that potentially not so much of an issue this season, and in fact we can look toward the future in regard to him? A lot of questions surround him, without many answers as yet.
Scott Arfield – 5.4 (5)
I was beginning to think he had endless energy! About time he got the chance to put his feet up a bit, although he still enters the fray at a late stage to help secure the win.
Jordan Jones – 5.4 (5)
I hope he wasn’t too distracted by his birthday wishes from certain online accounts…