Rangers’ lead in the Scottish Premiership might be slipping away after a dynamic yet goalless draw with Hibernian during the week. The team couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities and ended up with 35 points, dropping to the second place in place of Celtic, who won their game against Motherwell.
After beating Celtic last week, Hibernian boss, Neil Lennon made no changes in the squad and Hibs managed to hold onto the result against Gers despite the regularly exposed defensive line. There were a couple of positional changes which didn’t help much also.
The failure to score goals and convert pressure into points is becoming more frequent for Rangers as this is also Steven Gerrard’s biggest frustration lately. Alfredo Morelos replaced Kyle Lafferty on the top of the attack after a two-game suspension but unfortunately he couldn’t turn his shots into goals as only three out of his seven were on target.
There was no reminder of the last season’s breathtaking 5-5 draw between the teams as this time the lack of decisive finishing under pressure resulted in a goalless display.
But why did Rangers struggle in front of the goal and how did Hibs hold on to this result?
Morelos’ low accuracy performance
Alfredo Morelos has scored nine goals for Rangers this term which is a pretty satisfying stat. But if you look into his overall game, you would notice that his contribution to the other areas and his accuracy in that is quite low.
Against Hibernian, he managed to shoot seven times with only three of them being on target. And that is the case in most of the games he took part in. His shot accuracy percentage on average per 90 minutes is only 37,2%. As it happened this week, he experiences difficulties once he is put under pressure. The Colombian is good at creating opportunities but he needs to put some more work in the final stages. The proof of his problems under pressure is the fact that he won less than half of his duels and lost possession of the ball 10 times against Hibs. Although he escaped some of them gracefully with 7/7 successful dribbles.
Borna Barisic charged down the left and spotted Morelos, who had drifted slightly to that side from his central berth. Barisic’s ball was perfect to run into the Colombian’s path, who checked inside Lewis Stevenson before bringing out a fine save from Bogdan to his right.
Rangers’ counter-attack efforts and pressing
Hibs’ defensive line was constantly pressured with Morelos expectedly being the most active player in the final third. His shots on target all came in a five minute period of time as his good positioning during corner kicks was crucial. The team sent 14 shots towards Adam Bogdan (who came in as a sub in the 14th minute) with eight of them being on target. They kept the goalkeeper busy but after a few brilliant saves, he managed to keep a clean sheet.
Hibs couldn’t respond well to the high press as they forced their first corner kick in the end of the first-half. That turned out as their only one throughout the game, compared to 11 for Rangers.
Although they were able to hold onto the ball, they still couldn’t use the time in possession to create chances. They produced only six shots with only one of them being on target.
Hibernian’s midfield diamond
Rangers rarely had struggles reaching the final third, but they did against Hibs’ midfield diamond. That’s where The Cabbage had a chance to recover the ball and make a turnover.
Rangers’ performance against the top six sides
Their performance against the top six sides in the Scottish Premiership is what might tilt the scales in Celtic’s favour. Compared to Celtic, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, Rangers have won the lowest amount of points per game in their matches against teams in the top six. They average 1.375 points per game with 11 points in eight games. Celtic are at the top of the list with two points per game (16 overall), followed by Kilmarnock (1.555) and Aberdeen (1.428).
These stats may prove crucial in the title race as well as their away record thus far.
Rangers need to make sure they win all their games until the end of the year as this might be the turning point of the season. Respectively, the Celtic derby would prove if Steven Gerrard’s side is ready enough to end their opponents’ title-winning run and be on the top again.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Get your copy of the FIRST of two December issues for just £4.99 here or preorder the SECOND of the December issues with an annual membership right here.