We go again. Steven Gerrard refuted that the word “revenge” will be in his team talk. What he did touch on was that our performances, so far, versus Aberdeen haven’t equated to the results. After going top of the league with a commanding and confident performance against Hearts, the Rangers players couldn’t ask for a better fixture to confirm their position as genuine title challengers.
Opening Day Drama
The opening game of the season at Pittodrie was, with hindsight, a missed opportunity. A 1-1 draw when we had enjoyed decent spells of possession and missing a series of chances to make the score 2-0. What made things worse was the rescinding of the 12th minute red card of Alfredo Morelos. The referee admitted he didn’t see it and the assistant referee “thought there was a coming together”. But aye, the referees all favour Rangers.
Semi Final Farce
The second game against Aberdeen was more disappointing. The semi-final at Hampden was poor to watch. Aberdeen made no effort to compete or have a go. Yes, they won, but it shows everything about them that they approached the game the same way as Livingston or Hamilton would. The loss of Alfredo Morelos through suspension and Kyle Lafferty being cup-tied was key. Football is about small margins and if Sadiq stays on his feet when he rounds Joe Lewis, it’s 1-1 and anything can happen.
Rangers are flying now, full of confidence. We are scoring goals and not conceding many. Gareth McAuley is the centre-half we’ve been crying out for. If only he was 34/35 even and we could get another four years out of him. With an easier game on paper at the weekend against Dundee, I’d expect Gerrard to keep pretty much the same team and rotate at the weekend. His only real decisions will be whether or not Borna Barisic comes back in and who replaces the suspended Scott Arfield. I think Barisic will start on the bench and Ryan Jack will come back into the starting line up with Lassana Coulibaly pushing further forwards.
Aberdeen will have Gary MacKay-Steven out after being concussed v Celtic in the League Cup Final on Sunday. I can’t see McInnes doing anything other than the same as the semi-final. He might bring James Wilson in for MacKay-Steven, however, it was Connor McLennan who replaced him on Sunday.
Call it overconfidence but I think we will win comfortably. Our attackers are playing well and full of confidence. They’ve not had to play against Morelos yet and this could be key. The wee Colombian is flying at the moment and if he doesn’t score I’m pretty sure he will have a positive impact at some point. Aberdeen’s recent decent run of form was also flawed. They had 4 or 5 games where they conceded great chances but got lucky and scored a few screamers themselves, that can’t be sustained at any level. The 3-0 loss against Motherwell showed this in spades.
My heart says 3-0 Rangers but my head says 2-0. My main justification is this is the first game Aberdeen will have to be wary of a threat down both wings and centrally. If they can’t cope with Motherwell, I don’t think they’ll be able to handle us. Revenge is a dish best served with a scudding!