Rangers travel to Fir Park to play Motherwell, a team which caused Rangers all sorts of issues last season. With the heavy schedule the team has been through and still face in the coming week, the prospect of a physical match against a team who enjoy playing that way isn’t one fans are entirely looking forward to. There’s some real momentum being built by the team right now though, so they won’t want that to be dented in any way.
MOTHERWELL RECENT FORM
Queen of the South (Home, League Cup), 2-0 win
Clyde (Away, League Cup), 3-1 win
Hibernian (Away, League), 3-0 defeat
Hamilton (Home, League) 1-0 defeat
Livingston (Away, League Cup) 1-0 win
Motherwell have made a number of signings in the summer. Some players like Liam Donnelly, Mark Gillespie and Christian Mbulu haven’t really featured yet. They brought back Tom Aldred on loan from Bury, and also loaned in Connor Sammon from Hearts. Two interesting signings were that of Alex Gorrin in midfield and Danny Johnson up front. They are players who don’t entirely fit the style Motherwell employ on early viewings. They do seem to have some ability though.
The main player to have left the club is Cedric Kipre, who signed for Wigan. He was a key player for Motherwell last season in their runs to both cup finals.
MOTHERWELL STATISTICS AND TACTICS
Surprisingly, Motherwell have one of the highest Expected Goals rates in the league right now at 2.89. The fact they haven’t scored in either match suggests they’ve missed good chances. They’ve also averaged around 50% possession, which given one match was away to Hibernian is a decent return. Their style hasn’t changed much from last season, with 55 crosses in 2 matches being the most any team in the league has attempted.
They’ve had 25 shots at goal so far, with around a quarter of those on target. With 35 touches in the opposition box, they’re 4th highest in the league, and second highest for attempted dribbles at 65. None of this really says that they’ve been poor in their two defeats so far.
That’s been in an attacking sense, however. Defensively, they’ve had 108 duels and won only 16% of them. Despite the Expected Goals Against figure being 1.6, they’ve conceded 4 so far in the league.
Motherwell have used either the 3-5-2 they played most of last season with, or a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. With Rangers playing the forward 3 and using width, I suspect they’ll go with the back 4.
RANGERS TEAM NEWS
Rangers come into this match with a squad that has played a lot of games but is somewhat stretched. Coulibaly isn’t ready to return to the team yet. Sadiq is clearly not considered to be adapted to the demands right now. Ross McCrorie is suspended, and the Jamie Murphy injury leaves the team short of a strong attacking option. Kyle Lafferty will be involved in some way, with Barisic also available again.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
I suspect Candeias and Flanagan will be rested for this one. It’s possible that Halliday will start in midfield, but I believe we’ll ask the three who started on Thursday to go again. Lafferty will fill in wide but be given scope to get involved in central areas.
Motherwell will believe they have been better than their results have shown. They enjoy playing against Rangers and showing their physical style. It’s a match that’s always tricky, and it comes at a very difficult time. Motherwell will start at a high tempo and look to unsettle the Rangers defence.
I think that Rangers will lean on the experience of players like McGregor, Goldson, Jack and Arfield and ride out the early pressure. From there, they’ll get a grip of the match and go on to win. My score prediction is 2-0 to Rangers.
How do you see the match going? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.