The “proper” football is back again! We all felt very excited to see us take on Livingston on Saturday at 3 o’clock. However, the performance in the first half really did not live up to that anticipation, and a combination of our new (returning) star signing going off injured and going behind early in the second half had us all worrying that this would be yet another typically frustrating and angry day at Ibrox. But, as we have seen before this season, we have a much stronger mentality in our squad and we turned things around with a few key individual displays guiding us to a 3-1 win.
Allan McGregor – 7
Don’t think you can blame him for the Livingston goal, it’s rare to point the finger at your keeper in those situations. However, he made a crucial save when the game was finely balanced in the second half, so another game where he makes an important contribution to the victory.
James Tavernier – 7
Again, this wasn’t a vintage Tavernier performance that we were so used to last season, particularly from a defensive point of view. But, his crossing was a bit more like the thing, he could easily have got two assists in the first half but for a bit more luck. And his goal, very reminiscent of his goal against Celtic in May, saw his leadership qualities in the aftermath. “Get the ball, get it on the centre spot, get looking for this second goal.”
Connor Goldson – 6
It’s difficult to rate the two central defenders in this game, because the flow of the game did not require them to do a great deal. However, I wouldn’t say that neither he nor Katic showed any total defensive dominance. Not sure we should be overly critical of either of them though, sometimes our centre backs can have very quiet days.
Nikola Katic – 6
A lot of what I’ve said about Goldson can apply to Niko, but let’s just keep an eye on him and whether he could be on the verge of stepping back to let Helander see some game time. If I was to guess, he would be the more likely of the two to take a seat to accommodate the big Swede.
Andy Halliday – 5
I don’t think it is unfair to say that Rangers won this game in spite of Andy Halliday. He got incredibly lucky on a couple of occasions. In no way was he fouled when Livingston were on the counter attack, and his man hit the woodwork from a corner with him merely staring and not at least jumping. I just fear that he is not able to raise his game to the level that those around him have been able to. His time at the club will be limited if he continues to play like this.
Scott Arfield – 6
One of the biggest surprises about this line up for me was that Arfield was going to play in the Ryan Jack role. Originally I thought we would change the shape and we would see Scott in an attacking midfield role, but no, he was utilised in the engine room. Now, you cannot criticise his work rate, but he still looks tired despite having a rest during this international break, and he slid in needlessly to concede the penalty early in the second half.
Steven Davis – 6
One of Gary Holt’s tactics seemed to be that his team needed to stay tight on Steven Davis. I think this contributed to him not having his best game, and a reason why Livingston did have a reasonable amount of counter attacks.
Joe Aribo – 7
He was a bit more like his old self today, I just think it will take one outstanding performance to get Joe back to the player we saw when he first arrived, with that excitement to perform wonders on the pitch. I thought his improvisation from a corner was brilliant, and was key to us taking the lead.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
Another day, another game at Ibrox where fans get on the back of Sheyi Ojo. That sounds like it’s not merited criticism, to be honest I think it is. He hides a bit too quickly when things get tough, and his one good moment in the game (his assist for the third) comes when we are on the ascendancy. My current theory on Sheyi is this. If he starts well, he will have a great game. If he struggles initially, don’t expect anything from him unless we are in a comfortable situation. That may sound harsh, but I don’t believe I’m alone in this view.
Alfredo Morelos – 8 – Man of the Match
I would love to see his heat map for this game, I would imagine his presence was all across the front line, he popped up all over the place, in a good way. He was unfortunate not to score in the first half, and he was the most determined out there to right the wrong of going behind, and put the ball into the net for the second goal. A really good performance all round I thought.
Ryan Kent – 7
So, the return did not go anywhere near according to plan. His injury in the 40th minute was incredibly unfortunate, but I don’t think this was anything to do with his lack of game time up to now, therefore picking him to start was not a mistake. What was more disappointing was, when he was on, we saw that flash that we longed to see again (no, not in a Casper kind of way).
Brandon Barker – 8
I thought that, under pressure considering who he replaced, Barker did an excellent job. Clearly he loves running at defenders, saw that there was a real opportunity to stake a first team claim and took his chance by smashing home his third goal really well. Has he done enough to start on Thursday? If he does, that’s a real statement from Gerrard.
Andy King – 7
The more games we see King feature, the more and more obvious it becomes that there is a player here that can be of real use to us. He looks a very cultured player who has played consistently at a high level. I would be very disappointed if his time is limited to mainly sub appearances, he can offer so much more than that.
Jermain Defoe – 6
Not a lot of time to do much, and the game was done, but I liked how he and Morelos celebrated when Big Buff scored. He looks to be fulfilling a role that we all anticipated, mentoring and driving on Alfredo, which is really excellent and exciting to see.