Rangers needed a reaction from Wednesday’s defeat at Kilmarnock. And they got one at Livingston by winning 3-0, with goals from Ryan Jack, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos.
It’s the first time Gary Holt’s side have lost at home by more than one goal in the league this season. Furthermore, it’s the second time Rangers have beaten Livi 3-0 this season.
Also, it’s the first time Rangers have won wearing the white shirt this season.
4-3-3 is the best system for this team
It was back to basics for Steven Gerrard. He ditched the diamond and went back to the favoured 4-3-3 and it worked a treat. The players looked more confident and comfortable in that shape. Additionally, they knew what their roles were within the system.
On Wednesday we saw Ryan Kent shoehorned into the no.10 position at the tip of the diamond. In this match, everyone played in their best position and the balance of the team was far better.
When the team lost the ball during the Killie game, the diamond was far too easy to play through but the tight nature of the 4-3-3 with the wide men helping the full-backs meant they weren’t left exposed; it cut off any chance of Livi overloading the wide areas. Ross McCrorie also helped in that regard, sitting in front of Joe Worrall and Nikola Katic.
The players who came back in were very good
Gerrard made four changes to the side with Nikola Katic, Daniel Candeias, Ross McCrorie and Borna Barisic replacing Steven Davis, Jermain Defoe, Andy Halliday and Gareth McAuley.
Niko Katic was back in the side and it looked like he had never been away. He won a lot of aerial balls against Dolly Menga, who is a tricky customer. Furthermore, with Katic instead of McAuley in the back, it meant that the back four didn’t have to drop deep to compensate for McAuley’s lack of pace, meaning they could squeeze the game and help the rest of the team execute the high pressing game.
Daniel Candeias’ energy was vital. Not only that, he added that final ball to his game which is often found wanting. His link-up play with James Tavernier was an important part of the attacking arsenal.
Ross McCrorie coming into the midfield gave that area some purpose and some energy that was badly lacking on Wednesday. He was excellent and I feel his use of the ball and keeping the tempo up is vastly underrated.
Morelos’ persistence paid off
He missed a really good chance before the first goal, hitting the post. His head could have dropped. Last January, that probably would have been the case. However, he kept going and he had a hand in two goals before he got his own, which was a great finish from a tight angle. That was number 21 for Morelos. And, yet again, he proved that his game is all about being the focal point of the team.
His link-up play was superb and he put in a real selfless performance against three tough defenders. The joy on his face when he scores is fantastic. He is so important to this team. If he keeps producing this kind of performance, Jermain Defoe may have to be forced to play a supporting role along with Kyle Lafferty.
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