Before we talk about the game and how the players ranked, my god it was cold on Sunday wasn’t it!? In freezing temperatures, however, Rangers put in another hot display to knock Hearts for 5 (just imagine watching your side gut humbled in those conditions by the way) and in all honesty our team didn’t need to put in a stellar performance to do so. The usual names pop up here as having played well, with one or two players appearing from the (relative) cold to signal their intention to be involved in a massive few games coming up for the side.
Allan McGregor – 7
Had the square root of zero to do in the first half, he wasn’t really involved in Hearts’ only real opportunity that was knocked just wide, but was aware to a couple of threats in the second half and was urging the side forward near the end in the hopes of us adding a few more goals. Job done as far as he is concerned.
James Tavernier – 7
No lack of effort from the skipper, and he got his reward with a lovely cut back which gave opposite captain Berra no choice but to make contact with the ball which found its way into the net. His crossing looked a bit better here, he was desperately unlucky not to set up a second goal for Morelos after the Colombian couldn’t quite get his feet right, but the cross from Tav was really good. This was actually a decent game for Tavernier, I would suggest a goal from him might be what he needs to be back fully at it now.
Connor Goldson – 8
Goldson had the somewhat unenviable task of marking the big lump Ikpeazu and you have to say he gave him no joy here. He stayed strong against supposedly the most physical striker in the league, outran him whenever a chase was on, and the fact he was subbed off without having done anything to the side tells you this was a really solid game from Connor. I dare say had luck been on his side and he converted one of the chances he had from corners, he would be an obvious man of the match candidate.
Filip Helander – 7
Helander was tasked with dealing with Naismith (boo) and, rather weirdly, seemed to have a tough time winning aerial duels against the Scotland forward, especially in the first half. As time went on however he grew into the game and by the end the frustration of Naismith (boo) tells you what you need to know. Not the better of the two centre backs, but that’s another clean sheet that Filip can boast about.
Borna Barisic – 8
We could spend hours discussing how good Borna Barisic is at kicking a football, but the one thing that always amazes me is how good he is at crossing the ball without needing to take a first touch. In order to do this well, you need to asses the movement of the ball you are receiving, both the weight and direction of it, understand where you want the ball to go, and execute this, all in the space of seconds. He consistently achieves this, and it was a magnificent set up for our first goal of the game (more on that later). As well as that, I thought he looked really solid in the tackle which, when you consider how he was being talked about even at the start of this season, just shows the level of improvement.
Scott Arfield – 7
Playing in a deeper role today and I must admit that this was probably the best I’ve seen from Arfield at Ibrox this season. His runs from deep were working much better for him as he had the space to play, although the passing side of his game would need to wait until later on, but once it did he was starting to look the part, with his threaded pass playing in Joe Aribo who would set up our second goal. He still perhaps takes one too many touches but I think we can feel a lot happier about Arf’s game here than what we had felt previously.
Steven Davis – 8 – Man of the Match
There wasn’t necessarily a need for his tracking back and retrieving possession game, so the focus for Davis was really on how he distributed the ball. In the main he was passing the ball very well, he did so through out the game. I think there were a lot of Bears who came across on the ferry for this game as he was being very well supported, it was good to see Davis put in his usual class act.
Glen Kamara – 8
A lot of what was so good about Kamara here was the work done off the ball, running into a lot of spaces that would force the Hearts defence to track him, opening up space for his teammates to exploit. But even on the ball, he was dribbling well, looking to advance the play in a positive manner. Juventus, take note, this boy can do it on a cold Sunday afternoon in Govan!
Joe Aribo – 7
It was quite a surprise to see Aribo start the game and be used in the main as a winger, because what he lacks is raw pace which we are used to with a lot of our wide players. Though he may lack in that aspect, he makes up for it with his intricate passing play, which was used to good effect when he was played in, kept the ball in play, and slotted the ball into the path of Kent to slot in goal number two. I would be worried if we continued to see a trend of Aribo playing a number of different roles during a match, I would like to see him flourish in “his own position” but the important thing is he is back playing which is great to see.
Alfredo Morelos – 8
You wonder whether Alfie was a bit pissed off with how cold it was. I say that because the manner in which he scores our opening goal is of a boy who could not give a damn about how many players he needed to beat to that ball, he was getting it! That’s three headed goals in a row for a player who is not the tallest striker, he does not let that hamper him in the slightest. Top forward play, and he was unfortunate not to grab a couple more over the course of the match, but he did his job once again, no question.
Ryan Kent – 8
Was constantly looking to find routes to goal, whether that be for himself or others, in the first half, cutting inside, plenty of step overs, tearing the Hearts defence apart (I’m sure there is a song about that). Gets his reward with the goal, good run into the middle of the area, Aribo lays it up and he makes the move a slam dunk. Had less opportunities in the second half and was subbed off to keep himself fresh early on into the latter period, but like Morelos he did his job.
Sheyi Ojo – 7
Well done Sheyi Ojo! I’m delighted to say this for once as opposed to constantly referring to his faults, but that desire to win the ball back in that area of the park which ultimately leads to a goal is much more what we are looking for from a Rangers winger, a no f***s given attitude to demanding possession and an opportunity of a Rangers goal. Now, had he played the ball to Stewart for him to score as opposed to going for goal himself I would be raving over him, but baby steps.
Jermain Defoe – 6
I guess all that can be said is he will be gutted not to be given the 5th goal but the ball did indeed cross the line already. I’m convinced that had he taken a shot at their keeper he would have been celebrating a goal, so it’s just unfortunate he never got a chance to kick the ball in anger really.
Greg Stewart – 8
Come off the bench and score twice? That’s very decent stuff you have to say. Is calm enough to slot the ball in with what must have felt like ‘hunners’ of defenders closing down on him, and winning the header which somehow conspired to cross the line (that keeper by the way, jeez) shows a man who is rather interested in being involved in a very busy and important month. And if you think about what our likely midfield will be for Hampden, a player like Stewart could fit rather nicely into that front three…