On Sunday we faced a Motherwell side who, even before kick off, I felt would be one of the toughest opponents in the league for us this season. To be fair to Stephen Robinson, his team came to Ibrox with an obvious and specific plan and it was not something that the team expected. As a result, our performance was poor, very much so in the first half, with only a bit of luck and a natural finisher in Defoe being on the end of a loose ball in the box pulling us level. A set piece goal in the second half and Rangers saw out the game to take all three points. Under the circumstances, it’s a really strong three points to collect.
Allan McGregor – 6
My initial thought was McGregor could have done a lot better for the Motherwell goal. I actually think more credit has to go to the striker however. He turns on our defence really quickly and hits a snap shot from nowhere, and McGregor’s feet were positioned as such that it was difficult for him to adjust in time. There wasn’t the wonder save in this game, but I do think had he prevented that shot hitting the net then that would have been considered as one.
James Tavernier – 6
Even when you take the penalty miss out of the equation, this again was quite an anaemic display. Far too many crosses not finding there man. Struggling with his defensive duties. Getting to the by line but time and again not looking to play a much better option of a low driven cross but instead aiming high. He does win the penalty. And he is brave enough to step up and take it himself despite being on such s lull in form. The worst thing you can do with a penalty is not even putting it on target. Another miss, another cacophony of groans from the stands. Just not his day. He does redeem himself a great deal however with his assist for the winning goal, an excellent corner and a reminder of how good he can be from set pieces. But this was one shining light amongst a majority of poor moments, not only today, but recently, and questions are now, fairly, being asked about whether now is the time to give Tav a rest. Even if he continues to play, he now cannot be on penalty duties as it is now quite simply a thing.
Connor Goldson – 7
Thought he put in the better of the defensive shifts from the two centre backs in this game. Played the easy options, did his duties in the main well. The kind of day you would take from him week in week out. Both he and Morelos have featured in the most games for the team so far this season.
Filip Helander – 7
So strange how he can go from being so great defensively against a great team to looking a lot worse against a much worse side. The speed of the Motherwell forward who played on the right was something Filip really didn’t like dealing with, and we were lucky they never took advantage of that more often. He does, of course, score,the winning goal, having been unlucky not to score from a corner not long beforehand, he dives to receive the Tavernier cross and does enough to direct the ball behind the ‘Well keeper. He put his body on the line and was rewarded, so all’s well that ends well.
Borna Barisic – 7
I just love the amount of encouragement that Barisic now gets when driving forward. Before there was an expectation which exuded itself as pressure, whereas now we are all very aware of what he can do and are willing him on. We did see some decent looking crosses again, the problem was Motherwell’s three centre backs are a lot bigger than our one striker we had, so finding Defoe would be a difficult task for anyone really. Like Helander, there were defensive struggles today, especially against speed, so that is something that we will need to keep an eye on going forward.
Scott Arfield – 6
I was told that the best three performances from Scott Arfield this season have come from him playing in this position as opposed to further forward. If that is the case, then that really does not say a lot for his season so far. Arfield just looked like a body in the middle of the park, never really did anything. You have to compare his performance to when Jack plays there. There wasn’t the tracking back to receive the ball, there wasn’t the passing with intent, there was none of the positives you get from Ryan Jack in there. Arfield’s best position would be a central attacking midfielder. He plays there for Canada and plays well in there. The problem we have with him right now, is we do not play that role. He is another who probably needs to just be on the bench for a bit.
Steven Davis – 7 – Man of the Match
The best part of Steven Davis here was the tracking back to win the ball. Speed, tenacity, really important that he played like that here. But he also got forward and wanted to create. He was our midfield when others were posted missing. It was his shot that was parried into the path of Defoe, had it gone in it would have been an excellent strike. There were a few too many diagonals played, even after it was clear that we would not get much joy out of that, but he found better ways to create openings in the second half, which is why, though not a stand out, he deserves the best player of the game accolade.
Joe Aribo – 6
I have a theory regarding Joe Aribo and his performance level right now, which is poorer than his start to the season. His best games for us have come when we have been playing Jon Flanagan at left back. Because he would sit and be a purely defensive full back, Aribo had more license to play higher up and do what he does best, attack. The problem he has now is Barisic is becoming a key player for us, and his forward runs mean that we need someone covering that area, which is Aribo’s job when he plays. So he is being forced to limit himself somewhat for the sake of the team dynamic. You could argue that, when Barisic is playing, the ideal left sided centre mid to play would in fact be Glen Kamara as he is far more suited to doing that job, see Porto. Like Arfield, Aribo would best be used as a central attacking mid, so he isn’t being used in the way that gets the best out of him.
Greg Stewart – 7
After we conceded the opening goal, I thought Stewart looked to take it upon himself to instigate the fight back, and was looking for the ball a lot more in more central positions. Although not much that he tried really came off, I thought his effort levels were very present and off the back of today I would have him ahead of Arfield for that role without question.
Jermain Defoe – 7
When you are the size that Defoe is, he is not the tallest man although that has not held him back, you cannot expect him to challenge for high balls against three big lumps, especially when your two attacking compadres aren’t really assisting you in that regard either. Thought there were signs of frustration from him as the first half went on, taking on shots when he should have passed etc, but the one man you would want at the end of a loose ball in the area to tuck away a first time shot into a tight space is, without question, Defoe. A crucial moment, one which will always justify his inclusion in a game like this.
Brandon Barker – 6
Struggled to make much of an impact at all during his time on the field. He was a bit too indecisive, and looks like a player who still needs time to settle in. Was very annoyed at the way he hurt himself by flinging himself in the air from a challenge and landing on his shoulder. Completely unnecessary way to take yourself out of the game.
Ryan Kent – 7
Kent’s entrance to the game was extremely welcome as we would now have the chance to be much more dynamic with our creativity. We did see this, a lot more cutting inside, a lot more unpredictable moments for the defenders to deal with, the quality is absolutely still there. I do get the sense though that he still needs time to fully get back to that former level, which we have not seen yet, but this would always take time so there is no major stress in that respect.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
There was a bit more tracking back and a bit more following of direction from Ojo here, how brilliant to see! His role, certainly right now, should be impact sub, because he is without doubt one of the fastest players in our squad, with reasonable strength to boot, and against tiring defences that should make a big difference. Key word, “should.”
Alfredo Morelos – 6
A magnificent talent though he is, Morelos is not a great substitute, especially when he comes on to play alongside Defoe, it just doesn’t seem to work! By all means encourage each other from the touchline, whoever isn’t playing, but whenever they are both on the pitch they seem to almost cancel each other out, it’s very odd.
Player ratings from our massive home win against Hamilton.