In his first home league game in charge, Giovanni van Bronckhorst fielded what feels like his more attacking side against a lowly Dundee side who look to have found a bit of form of late. A really impressive start winning some important games so early on, but this is a month that can prove so important to a league campaign and every single match is one that needs to be won. The fear of losing the opening goal is gone from the stands, the confidence to go into the break ahead is much higher, and so many players look to have really kicked up a gear since the change. Our play was really positive in the first half middle to front. We were thinking about our attacks a lot better, but all that was lacking was the finish, with a number of good chances going wide or being well saved by the keeper, even though we really should have been ahead at that point. But when you are attacking that well and with that many chances, you earn a bit of luck which is what we got when a shot just outside the area is deflected, wrong footing the in form keeper and we find ourselves ahead deservedly. The growing tension from some as the half went on was down to us seeing a pattern in the past of getting chances but not taking them, but this feels much more like what we would expect, but the second goal is always the key in these match ups.
And it wasn’t long before we would get that second, and this was off the back of a really superb spell of play, and scorer would turn provider as his ball across goal was knocked in by the Dundee defender. But again, we had some great chances which could have doubled our lead prior to this had it not been for some good goalkeeping from their number 1. The attention was very much on one of the Dundee subs at this point, whose antics over the years was not lost on those in attendance, and he should count himself lucky not to have been sent off for a second yellow card, not long after receiving his first, although he may have been looking for an excuse for an early departure, not that he made any real difference in any way other than again proving what a wee ned he is. We should have been ahead by more going into the later stages of the game, but we did get a third goal courtesy of some super determination from our striker who was able to prove doubters wrong, and the final score of 3-0 was the least that we deserved from this day. And even a chance from Dundee right at the end that hit the post couldn’t go in, and it would have been a travesty to have not won by at least three here. A good days work for the team who maintain their lead at the top of the table and can now enjoy a stress free game away in France.
Here is how you rated our players from a straightforward home victory against Dundee.
Allan McGregor – 6.8 (7)
But for a couple of close calls, one at the start and one at the end of the game, it was a quiet and straightforward afternoon for the keeper. The first half chance comes a bit from nowhere but it is easy enough to gather, thankfully he is in the right spot, and the shot right at the end from Griffiths is a lucky escape but would have been redundant in the context of the game, merely annoying.
James Tavernier – 7.1 (7)
We continue to see a bit more of a focus on the defensive side of the game from him and I think he looked comfortable again in that respect. At no point did he make an error which cost the side, nor did he look like he was struggling in the one on one battle. With so many others doing the attacking, there was less need for him to bomb forward as much, which perhaps says a lot about the style which van Bronckhorst wants to see.
Connor Goldson – 7.2 (7)
A lot of the same things that have been going on in recent weeks were again at play here, both in terms of his defensive improvements and also his passing issues. Although far less likely to be punished, we still saw the occasional hiccup, which is at least an improvement on what felt like a constant issue in the previous game. But his primary job is to defend and he again did that job well.
Calvin Bassey – 7.4 (7)
The credit that Goldson gets in games should also include the way he seems to be helping bring on Bassey as a centre back. As was pointed out, any time Bassey has been partnered by Connor, he has shown up well, and did so again here, and that partnership aspect of what we are getting from our current duo at the back is something that should show praise for both Calvin and Goldson.
Borna Barisic – 7.5 (7)
This was one of the best displays I’ve seen from Borna in a while, and it’s because of how much easier it looked for him to defend and just keeping it simple. With a real emphasis on “keeping the zero”, all four defenders need to make sure they are doing that job and Barisic looks to have improved in this respect a lot, and we are seeing signs of a return to form for the Croatian, along with that confidence that he exudes when he feels he is on it.
Glen Kamara – 7.2 (7)
You only need one holding midfielder in games like this, and he isn’t going to do a great deal of work in terms of ball recovery when we hold as much possession as we do, but on the odd occasions he is required he will do what he needs to do. What’s good about him is he will offer you a lot more than just being a destroyer, he possesses all that you would look for in a cultured version of that kind of player.
Joe Aribo – 8.2 (8) – Man of the Match
So much praise has come his way over recent weeks, as well as over the course of the season, and it is telling that so many consider him to be the best player for us so far this season, because it’s true. It was another Man of the Match display from him, providing both a goal and an assist. The goal comes from him cutting onto his left foot before taking a shot outside the area (something we are far more comfortable doing under Gio) and the deflection wrong foots the keeper and it’s in. The second goal, as unfortunate for Dundee as it is with the own goal, comes from Aribo again showing that grit and determination to makes something happen. The interchange between him and Arfield shows that his versatility is still important, but when he needs to show up to being the main man, he is delivering a lot more in that respect now.
Ianis Hagi – 6.7 (6)
It is disappointing to again feel as though Hagi could have done more in this game, and whether a lot of people judge him on what they know he can do as opposed to what he is, or if he just looks out of position, he isn’t impressing a huge amount. The lack of speed is again something that I think lets him down in this system, and given the next game is one that has nothing riding on it, I hope that the coaching staff will give him a chance to play in that central role from the off to see how he does in there. That said, it makes so much sense to keep him in the team given what he is capable of doing.
Scott Arfield – 7.1 (7)
We benefitted from the way Arfield gets into advanced positions and but for some good goalkeeping he would have had another goal for us here. It’s that same run into that same area which opens up so much space in the attack, which others around him need to make sure they are helping with to take full advantage, and he is playing really well for us at the moment. In a standard league game, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Fashion Sakala – 7.3 (7)
I wonder if we are less likely to see Fashion as a striker as opposed to a winger, given he comes in to play wide as opposed to up top which I would have liked to have seen. That said, he still had plenty of chances to score, and he did everything but score in the end. Some saves and some misses, but in the end he still comes away from here with plenty of credit from the fans for the effort he puts in, even a head wound won’t phase him.
Alfredo Morelos – 7.1 (7)
The classic cliché of football being a funny old game, right up until he scores I would have happily seen him come off but he does so well to score our third goal. He has three defenders around him but is far too strong for all of them combined, and calmly passes the ball in having created the space for himself. That determination in the box is something we want to see more of, but it was a good way to show any doubters why he should still be on the field even when he has not converted some guilt edged chances.
Scott Wright – 6.2 (6)
You feel that one of the key things for a wide player in this set up is speed, and that is the primary asset of young Wright making his first appearance under Gio. Wide right feels like a far more natural position for him and he made some great runs down the flank, and seemed far more likely to create something than the player he replaced. This could be good for Scott in the long term.
Ryan Jack – 5.7 (5)
Important for him to continue to get minutes here and there, although more injury issues will frustrate so many of us. We just need to hope that he can find a consistent level of fitness so he may feature.
Juninho Bacuna – 5.3 (5)
Also getting his first run out under the new manager, and there were some brief flashes that intrigued, but he is unlikely to do a huge amount with the limited time he is given here.