Rangers draw feels like in some ways like a loss, with some poor performances on route, but let’s have a little perspective too…
I think I speak for all of us when I say, oof. Was that the plan? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the plan. Unless it’s some kind of bait and switch, let them think this is the big, almost annual, Rangers meltdown starting – only to hit them with the sharp edge thereafter. I’m not even sure, what with some of the individual performances today.
Ok, taking a step back, this wasn’t a disaster by any means. A disaster would have been a loss and only then in the event of a Celtic win yesterday. Neither happened, so no disaster. It’s as you were at the top, the Gers are 21 clear and the Hoops have some 3 games in hand. A healthy, if not hilarious, lead of points in the bag that, honestly, makes not winning the title a challenge.
It’s that kind of perspective that really helps. Rangers have built up serious good will in the form of unrelenting victories this season, while Celtic have been too busy with holidays to Dubai to really care about stopping us. That’s the plus and it can’t, and won’t, be ignored. The light blues are coasting to number 55 and have had a positively historic season, by any metric. That doesn’t change today and ten more draws to Motherwell wouldn’t change that either. On that thought, thank God there’s no more Motherwell games this season.
Now, this was a poor performance by the Gers. We have had the odd game lately, compared to early season, where we’ve been not been in top gear and yet three points have been easily secured. It kinda becomes the expectation, doesn’t it? I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t forsee dropping two to bottom of the table Motherwell, as average as we can be at times we’ve always found ways of grinding out the victory. Today’s result was an outlier, only the third time in 24 matches so far.
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Nonetheless, points were dropped and, if not for Cedric Itten coming off the bench to score, Steven Gerrard would be blushing a good bit more. It was a good goal, a strikers goal. He was unmarked, in the right spot and took it well – his 4th in 3 games against Motherwell, at least someone enjoys playing against them. We’ve argued before that Itten deserves a shot at a start, that may be enough to see he gets it, even with Kemar Roofe due to return from injury.
Itten, and his assister Borna Barisic, aside, there wasn’t an awful lot of good performances of note. James Tavernier, still our (and the league’s) top scorer, had another one of “those games”. Wild passes, wild attempts on goal, sloppyness in general. He’s been so good this year that it’s harsh to focus too long on it, but this last few weeks have seen his powers somewhat diminished.
Joe Aribo was pretty awful, all things considered. Wasteful in the extreme with just about everything that fell to him, having the completed pass percentage of any of the starting XI, except for Ianis Hagi. This was without a doubt Hagi’s worst performance in light blue this season, even worse than Joe, and he got the hook on 55 as a result. Alfredo looked uncomfortable and ended up being dispossessed more than anyone else on the park, more than the rest of the Rangers team combined even.
Even Ryan Kent had a bit of an off day, all things considered. Maybe his worst this season – I say maybe, because it’s hard to focus negatively on him too much when so many around him were having shockers. It was just that kind of game.
Ultimately, this was two points dropped that shouldn’t have been but, and this is a fairly big but, there’s always going to be games like this.
Now, for all that, the Gers should still have won this match comfortably. 73% possession overall is pretty ridiculous and it looked even more brutal than that figure would convey. No greater proof of Rangers being so obviously superior than Motherwell starting to time waste on 21 minutes after their goal, clogging the ball up the park after their own throw ins and grinding the game to a halt. An absolutely awful shower of a club, can you imagine being a season ticket holder at Fir Park? The lockdown is a mercy killing.
Ultimately, this was two points dropped that shouldn’t have been but, and this is a fairly big but, there’s always going to be games like this. Players inexplicably having bad days on the same days. The ball just not going in the back of the net, as if ordained so on high. Rangers at least came out of this one with the unbeaten streak intact and, as luck should have it, not any less further ahead on top.
It’s up to Gerrard to rebound from this one, I suspect this game may well shift his team selection to help wake up a few of the lads, but we’ll see. It’s our title to lose, that remains still true, and we don’t have a game until next Saturday against another bottom-of-the-table outfit, Ross County. No predictions from me ahead of that one, this time. I think I’ve learned my lesson.