Rangers host Dundee at Ibrox on Saturday with Steven Gerrard looking to improve the league results and get his team on a winning run. The international break, which somehow seemed to last longer than ever before, came after a defeat to Celtic at the end of a hectic schedule. It gave most of the squad a chance to recuperate and get ready for the big matches on the horizon. Dundee may be bottom of the league right now, but they have shown in the past that they are a capable side. Players returning from international duty and the Europa League match against Villarreal on Thursday will give Gerrard some choices to make in terms of squad management. Here, we preview the match and provide some tactical analysis and statistics for Dundee.
DUNDEE RECENT FORM
St Mirren (League, Away), 2-1 defeat
Aberdeen (League, Home), 1-0 defeat
Ayr United (League Cup, Home), 3-0 defeat
St Johnstone (League, Away), 1-0 defeat
Motherwell (League, Home), 3-1 defeat
As you can see, it’s been a run of defeats of late which has put manager Neil McCann under pressure. Usually, managers can come to Ibrox with little to worry about, knowing that they won’t be judged on that match. Due to how the season has started, I don’t believe McCann has that luxury.
DUNDEE STATISTICS AND APPROACH
Dundee have been playing a 4-4-2 so far this season, with a narrow midfield. A number of signings in the summer are still settling in, and they lost Steven Caulker on the last day of the transfer window. They bring one prominent ex-Rangers player with them in the form of Kenny Miller.
Despite a run of defeats, Dundee are averaging 53% possession in their matches. They have an expected goals rate of just over 4 which suggests they aren’t taking their chances. They’ve had 46 shots on goal in 4 league matches with around 32% on target. In terms of passing, they average 332 per match with an 80% success rate. Of those, around 51 will be deemed long passes. Similarly to last season, they are a team looking to play an attacking and passing style.
Defensively, they average around 65 duels per match and win 21% of them. At right back, Curran has by far the most of those with 52, and he only wins around 17% of his duels. The release of Caulker means they’ve lost their best player at winning aerial duels. Due to that, their figures of nearly 45% won so far may not be reflective of how they perform from now. They will be hoping that loan signing Ryan Inniss replaces Caulker for aerial strength.
With some deadline day signings and their poor start to the season, it’s difficult to judge how Dundee will line up for this one. One unknown is Glen Kamara, who has played only one match so far and pulled out of the Finland squad during the break. He impressed last season and is a player they definitely want to be involved. Benjamin Kallman has been preferred up front in the last couple of matches. There’s no doubt they have talented players in the squad who are under-performing.
RANGERS TEAM NEWS
Recent pictures suggest that Graham Dorrans, Jordan Rossiter and Eros Grezda have been taking some part in training. At the time of writing the press conference hasn’t been held, but hopefully Gerrard will provide more news on them today. The international break means that some players have had their week disrupted by travel or injury. Kyle Lafferty picked up a knock for Northern Ireland but should be fit to play. Alfredo Morelos only got back on Thursday from his time with the Colombia squad. It’s hoped that Lassana Coulibaly is over his recent injury and fit to be involved again.
The management team had been looking forward to the recent break to give them time to work on some things in training. The issue there is that many of the important players were away and not able to be involved in that. Saturday is the first of seven matches in the next three weeks, so having as many fit players as possible is going to be vital.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
With Flanagan and Morelos suspended for Thursday, I believe they’ll both start to allow Barisic and Lafferty to fully recover from international duty. It’s hoped that Eros Grezda can start on the bench, and I’d expect to see Worrall on there as well. Coulibaly may start if fit, but I suspect he’ll be on the bench as well. Gareth McAuley will need more time to get up to the required fitness level.
Dundee come to Ibrox in need of a result, and may try to approach the game a little differently from usual. Rangers are looking at a run of matches where they need to show they can go on a winning run if they have any chance of a successful season. Gerrard will send the team out to make a fast start and get the crowd involved early. With the Europa League match coming up, the team may be a little distracted, but I’d expect them to play well and win this match by a couple of goals. I’m going to predict a 3-1 win for Rangers.
How do you see the game going? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts!