Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo hasn’t been seen for a few weeks, including not featuring in mid-week training pictures. Now Gerrard has omitted him from an injury update. The signs aren’t looking so good…
Of all the statistics about football, from passing, to possession and that new media darling (that is ultimately useless,) “expected goals” – nothing comes close to having the impact on the actual game as a player’s injury history. Being sidelined through injury nulls every contribution a player can provide – if they can’t play, then that’s basically that.
There’s the odd exception of course. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t play a part in the EURO 2016 final, but his animated “look at me” routine on the sidelines is oft-credit as inspiring Portugal’s victory.
Alas, outside of examples of players so dodgy that fans aren’t terribly upset to see them sidelined, there’s really never a good time for a club to see players get on the injury list. Sadly, as time goes on, it’s looking like Rangers are already there with Joe Aribo.
The Nigerian has been a key player for the Gers since joining from Charlton Athletic last year, his speed, forwardness and ability to create, have always been sorely missed when he’s not on the pitch – and so far this season, it’s not looking terribly different. We talked before about Rangers looking just a bit toothless in their matches so far – defensively stalwart, but not getting as many goals as all the possession and play would suggest. There’s where that expected goals stat comes into play, I suppose.
Aribo himself has been out of action since the Livingston game. Fans, and presumably Steven Gerrard, had hoped he would be fit again with the international break serving as a buffer – but, as we get closer to Saturday’s game against Dundee, that’s looking increasingly unlikely.
Consider that Joe didn’t go on international duty, but still wasn’t seen training with the rest of his teammates during the week. Further, when giving squad updates, Stevie G never once mentioned the 24 year old. These factors, plus the reality that Rangers play tomorrow, doesn’t bode well for our chances of seeing Aribo featured. If there was an “expected Joes” stat, I’d say it’d be pretty low right now.
The real concern is, after several weeks of radio silence, what is actually going on with the lad? Is it something serious? Is he close to return? The lack of transparency on the issue is somewhat concerning, but could well be down to the fact that the club also don’t know when we’ll see Joe back in action again.
Nonetheless, it’s almost certain at this stage we’ll be up against the parked bus of Dundee United tomorrow without Aribo to help break it down. Given the Terrors are fresh off a 4-0 thrashing by Kilmarnock, you’d think this one wouldn’t need the Nigerian anyway. Still, we’d all feel a bit more secure seeing Joe’s name on the team sheet, as we always do. Rangers’ goals to expected goals ratio always does feel that little bit closer with him around.