Rangers face St Johnstone at Ibrox on Sunday in the 6th match of the league season. After a strong win last weekend against Dundee and the draw away to Villarreal, the Perth side represent a different challenge with their approach. St Johnstone have made a decent start to the season as well and have had some joy against Rangers in recent seasons. Rangers will need to make changes from the midweek game and hope that no issues are met due to the rotation. This preview will look at tactical analysis and statistics of St Johnstone and team news for both sides.
ST JOHNSTONE RECENT FORM
Hibernian (League, Home), 1-1 draw
Queen of the South (League Cup, Away), 4-2 win (AET)
Dundee (League, Home), 1-0 win
Hamilton (League, Away), 2-1 win
Aberdeen (League, Home), 1-1 draw
ST JOHNSTONE APPROACH AND STATISTICS
St Johnstone have played a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 in their matches this season. The latter has been used against Aberdeen and Hibernian, so may be their preferred approach in the more difficult matches. Up front, Tony Watt is their focal point, with wide players Kennedy and Wright providing pace and support. Scott Tanser and Ricky Foster are regular picks at full-back, and they have a number of options in midfield.
With 8 points on the board, St Johnstone have made a good start to the league. Their draws have come against Aberdeen and Hibernian which are strong results. The defeat was on the first day against Kilmarnock away from home. They have averaged 48% possession in their matches so far, which is a bit higher than they tended to have last season. Their 5 league goals match their expected goals rate of 4.82 for the most part.
With 49 shots at goal, mostly coming from Kennedy, they are 3rd lowest in the league. That position is matched by their 65 touches in the opposing box, joint with St Mirren at 3rd lowest. Kennedy runs at players a lot on the left, with 43 dribbling attempts at 72% success so far. Their crosses mostly come from the right-hand side, and they have the 3rd highest amount in the league with 101.
St Johnstone average 273 passes per match, the second lowest in the league. Most of those passes come from their full backs. With 53 of those passes being long passes on average, it’s clear they still look to play a direct style.
In terms of defensive duels, they have faced 354 in 5 matches and win around 20%. One player who is struggling there is Tanser, who has won only 10% of his duels. Conversely, Foster has won over 40% on the other side of the pitch. They are strong in terms of aerial duels, winning over 54% on average. They’ve conceded 54 fouls, which is 2nd lowest in the league.
St Johnstone will look to be organised in defence and quick on the break at Ibrox. They have opened up a little with the wide players not as defensive as before. They’ll concede possession to Rangers, and believe they will create chances on the counter-attack as other sides have done. The wide areas for both sides will be key.
RANGERS TEAM NEWS
Rangers will have Alfredo Morelos and Jon Flanagan available again after their suspension in Europe. Graham Dorrans is now back involved, and likely to make the bench. Gerrard confirmed that Ejaria should be fit, but Barisic is a doubt as he needs a scan on his hamstring. Ryan Jack would seem to be unavailable still, as is Gareth McAuley. Glenn Middleton will be pushing for a start as the team is likely to be rotated somewhat.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
With Ejaria not training much recently, and Dorrans still needing fitness, I believe we’ll start with the same midfield as the last two matches. Out wide, Candeias is likely to be on the bench so Middleton may start. Grezda will look to get on the park as a substitute. Worrall may retain his place ahead of Katic, but suggestions from Gerrard about the emphasis being on league matches suggests Katic will come back in.
This will be a tricky game for Rangers. Dundee came to Ibrox looking to attack and gave the team space to play in. St Johnstone won’t play that way. Some of the players will be feeling some effects from Thursday as well in terms of energy. With this in mind, I expect the match to be tight, with Rangers needing to work harder to break the opposition down. I believe the team will win this one 2-0, but both goals will come in the second half.
How do you see the game going? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.