Rangers face Livingston on Sunday looking to get their first away win of the SPFL campaign. After some good results at Ibrox in recent weeks, the team comes into the game high in confidence. Livingston will also be feeling upbeat given how they’ve started their season. With both sides on 11 points, it’s second against fourth before the start of the round of fixtures. In this article, we preview the match with some tactical analysis and statistics.
Motherwell (League Cup, Home), 1-0 defeat
St Mirren (League, Away), 2-0 win
Hibernian (League, Home), 2-1 win
Hamilton (League, Home), 1-0 win
Hearts (League, Away), 0-0 draw
LIVINGSTON TACTICS AND STATISTICS
Livingston line up in a 3-5-2 formation. They’ve scored 6 goals and conceded 4, against expected rates of 7 and 8 respectively. They have the lowest average possession in the league at 43.6%. Their average age in terms of players used so far is 26.8 which is second only to Kilmarnock. They average 270 passes every 90 minutes, with most coming from centre-half Gallagher. With 61 of those passes being considered a long pass, they clearly play a direct style at times in matches. Goalkeeper Liam Kelly, once of Rangers, plays most of those.
Livingston manage around 9 shots per match, but they have a very high amount on target at 45.76%. They hit only 10 crosses per match, with the majority coming from the right. With the lowest amount of dribbles in the league, it seems that they concentrate on playing through the middle.
Despite a very good defensive record so far, Livingston have had 70 shots against them which is 5th highest in the league. They’ve won 25% of 442 defensive duels, with Gallagher and Byrne facing most of those. In terms of interceptions, they top the league with 303, and Halkett is joint top for this with 47 so far.
In Gallagher and Halkett, Livingston are very strong in aerial duels. They have the highest success rate on average with 53%, with those players winning over 72% of their headers. This means they are dangerous when attacking set-pieces, and hard to beat when defending them.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Livingston have had six different scorers for their league goals so far. In terms of creating chances, Dolly Menga and Egli Kaja would seem to be their most creative players. Kaja is used from the bench in the main, and Menga has been one of the starters up front. Steven Lawless has been playing as one of the wingbacks and is an experienced player at this level.
Livingston are likely to line up with Kelly in goals, and a back three of Gallagher, Halkett and Lithgow. Lamie and Lawless have been their wingbacks, with Jacobs, Pittman and Byrne in midfield. Up front, Menga will most likely partner Robinson. They’ve had a settled side of late with some strong results.
RANGERS TEAM NEWS
Despite returns to the team for the likes of Rossiter and Grezda, both are probably still looking to get to full fitness. There was no update on Jack and Barisic in the press conference, so it’s assumed they are still unavailable. Lafferty returns to the squad after being cup-tied in midweek. Gerrard has made it clear that the league is the priority, so rested players during the week should be back in contention.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
There’s a chance that Halliday or Ejaria may start in midfield in place of McCrorie. The latter would see a very different dynamic to the shape in there. Middleton played very well against Ayr, but I suspect he’ll be used from the bench to make an impact.
The statistics suggest that Livingston have had a little luck in their good start. Hearts had a penalty saved and missed a great chance in their last draw. Despite that, there’s no doubt that they are a difficult team to break down at the moment. Rangers are in good form and feeling confident in their attacking play. The pitch will make a difference, but Rangers are due that away win, and I believe they’ll do well in this one and win 2-0.
How do you see the game going? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.