Rangers continued their recent good form after the Celtic defeat at the end of March. Aberdeen were the latest team to feel the wrath of this Rangers side. However, it is the first time Rangers have beaten the Dons at Ibrox this season in three attempts. They now have managed four wins in a row, which is the biggest number of wins they have managed to string together in the league so far this season.
Like last week against Hearts, there was only going to be one winner. In fact, it looked like there was only one team willing and able to play football. So much so, Rangers had over 66% of the ball and it showed on the day. Rangers also had 16 shots to Aberdeen’s four and more importantly six on target to Aberdeen’s one. It just highlights how dominant the home side were on the day.
However, the 2-0 result didn’t flatter Steven Gerrard’s men even though both goals came from two penalty kicks, which James Tavernier duly fired home.
We look at three of the major talking points from the 90 minutes at Ibrox.
The midfield made the victory an easy one: Steven Davis was the standout
Before moving on specifically to Steven Davis’ performance. Steven Gerrard‘s 4-3-2-1 had great success against Derek McInnes’ 4-2-3-1 shape.
The above image shows Davis dropping deep to start an attack. Right from the off, he has two obvious passing angles into Glen Kamara or Scott Arfield, who is in behind Gleeson. Ryan Jack being high on the right shows the fluidity of movement in this system. And of course, the numbers game centrally gave Rangers three vs two situations on several occasions.
Talking of Steven Davis, this was by far his best performance since re-joining the club in January. It was a masterclass from the Ulsterman. He had a passing accuracy of 89%. Furthermore, his partnership with Glen Kamara was a joy to watch; the way they linked up with Davis as the deep pivot was great to watch.
The above image shows how close the three players were on average during the match and also showed Davis combining with Arfield and Kamara on 40 occasions. It’s no surprise that those three were vital in Rangers winning the midfield battle.
Davis was my man of the match and when he can make the team tick like this, it’s easy to see why Gerrard brought him back.
The referee got both penalty decisions spot on
It wouldn’t be Scottish football without some manufactured outrage and crazy conspiracy theory. For what it’s worth, Don Robertson got both penalty decisions spot on. And, Steven Gerrard got it wrong too. First of all, he was wrong to name Nikola Katić and then he was wrong to say the player went down too easily after the match as it now allows a narrative to be created that Katić is a diver. After all, he was screaming for the penalty during the match.
The first penalty is clear: Lewis Ferguson trod on Nikola Katić’s foot.
Likewise for penalty number two. It may be soft but Considine should know better than to have an arm in Katić’s face when the ball is in the air.
Rangers have now had 13 penalties in the league this season. James Tavernier has scored 12 of them, with his only miss coming against St Mirren.
Second place is a sign of progress
The win secured second place for Rangers – the first time since their promotion. It may not be good enough to satisfy the fans’ demands or the manager’s, for that matter, but it’s a clear sign that they are heading in the right direction. They finished three points behind Aberdeen last season and now are 11 ahead with three games to go.