Rangers face St Johnstone tonight at McDairmid Park (weather permitting) looking to continue their recent good form. The team will be looking to make amends for the 3-1 defeat at Ibrox against the Perth side earlier this season.
ST JOHNSTONE LEAGUE FORM
St Johnstone currently sit in 8th place in the league. They’ve played 26 matches and got 30 points. In terms of home and away results, they have taken 15 points both home and away. They have scored 24 goals this season, which is the lowest amount of any team in the league. The goals conceded currently sits at 36, giving them a minus 12 goal difference.
LAST 5 LEAGUE RESULTS
Partick Thistle (home), 3-1 defeat
Hearts (away), 1-0 defeat
Motherwell (away), 2-0 defeat
Celtic (away), 0-0 draw
Ross County (home), 2-0 win
As can be seen above, the form of St Johnstone is somewhat inconsistent. They had a bad run of defeats before the draw with Celtic. Having won their last match, and keeping 2 clean sheets in a row, they’ll have some confidence going into the game tonight.
St Johnstone made a few notable signings in January. They brought in Matty Willock on loan, along with George Williams. They also signed Irish striker David McMillan. The loan deal for Michael O’Halloran expired, and they allowed Graham Cummins, Paul Paton and Ally Gilchrist to leave the club.
INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS
There are a few players unavailable through injury for tonight. Ex-Rangers full-back Richard Foster picked up an injury in the match against Celtic. Stefan Scougall and Keith Wilson also miss out, as does Brian Easton.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
FORMATION, SELECTION AND TACTICS
Manager Tommy Wright seems to prefer playing either a 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2 system. St Johnstone have the lowest amount of average possession in the league, at only 42%. They are a team that likes to be hard to beat and play on the counter attack. In the goalkeeping position, they’ve rotated between Allan Mannus and Zander Clark this season. Defensively, Anderson, Shaughnessy and Kerr are most likely to play, with Scott Tanser on the left. Blair Alston has played at right wing back, with Wotherspoon and Davidson in midfield. Willock is expected to be fit, and would also line up in midfield. Up front, they’ve preferred MacLean and Kane of late.
As the lowest scorers in the league, St Johnstone have struggled going forward. Their top scorers are MacLean and Davidson, both on 5 league goals. Despite having players who can take a good set piece, they haven’t scored from a free kick or corner all season. Their top scorers only average around 1.3 shots per match, showing that they don’t carry a huge threat. Most of their goals have come from play out wide rather than centrally. Davidson, in particular, is a threat running from deep and meeting crosses. Most crosses were coming from the right, but with Foster out, they’ve lost their player who crossed the ball most often.
Blair Alston is a player who has scored some great goals against Rangers recently. MacLean is more than capable if given a chance, as he has a 60%+ on-target rate with his shots. In either formation, they will tend to have two players up front. There can often be a gap between midfield and defence during their play, though.
As mentioned above, St Johnstone rely upon their defending to win them games. By conceding possession, they need to be strong in this area. Unsurprisingly, they have the 2nd highest defensive duels per 90 minutes in the league. Their success rate is just a little below average at 21.56%. They have the 2nd lowest number of fouls per game, with 10.6, and it tends to be midfielders like Wotherspoon or Davidson who give away most of those.
WHAT WILL RANGERS TARGET?
One potential weakness in the St Johnstone team is at left back. Scott Tanser wins only 19% of his defensive duels. Compared to the likes of Anderson and Shaughnessy, who win over 30%, he’s clearly someone that can be targeted. Rangers are strong on their right hand side, with Tavernier and Candeias in great form. This will be an area of the pitch Rangers look to exploit.
RANGERS TEAM NEWS
There are unconfirmed reports that Declan John is out injured. Lee Wallace is now back in training, but may not be ready to start a match. That leaves either Hodson or Halliday to play left back. The latter would provide more balance to the team, being naturally left footed. That aside, it seems the team from Saturday are all available.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
It may be that Cummings starts instead of Morelos if Murty feels the Colombian needs a little rest. I suspect, however, that Cummings and Alves will get their starts against Falkirk on Sunday.
With St Johnstone happy to let teams have the ball, this match will be about tempo. If Rangers can move the ball quickly and play with intensity going forward, they’ll create plenty of chances. Goss and Docherty are both very attack minded, so will look to do that. However, if St Johnstone do leave 2 players up top, the team will need to be wary of counter attacks. The strong performances of both Murphy and Candeias on Saturday will mean that St Johnstone won’t be sure which area to target defensively. If Rangers don’t allow the confidence to become complacency, they should be good to win this match.
Rangers fans can rightly go into this match with some confidence. Many of the players will be keen to make up for the loss at Ibrox earlier this season. As such, I think Rangers will win this match 3-0 and continue the recent good form.
What’re your predictions for tonight? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts.