Rangers travel to Fir Park to face Motherwell in the early kick-off on Saturday. The match is sure to be a difficult one for the travelling team, and a test of the resolve of the squad after two disappointing defeats. Let’s have a look at the stats and facts regarding Motherwell, and what Rangers will look to do to beat them.
Motherwell currently sit 8th in the league on 36 points. They are 6 points behind Hearts in the chase for a top 6 spot, with a game in hand. Of their points, they’ve won 22 at home and only 14 away. They have scored 34 goals and conceded 39, but those figures don’t tell a clear picture on their own. At home, Motherwell have scored 18 goals and only conceded 12. They have the 3rd best record in the league for goals conceded at home. The breakdown of goals and points show that they’re a team who are very hard to beat at their own ground.
Their top goalscorer this season was Louis Moult, but he has now left the club. Tanner currently leads the way with 6 goals, but he’s now out injured for 6 months. After them, Bowman has scored 5. Curtis Main has made a decent start for goals in the league, but one area they would look to improve is goals from defence and midfield. They’ve only scored 7 combined from players who are not forwards.
LAST 5 LEAGUE RESULTS
St Johnstone (home), 2-0 win
Kilmarnock (home), 1-0 defeat
Dundee (away), 1-0 win
Hamilton (away), 2-0 defeat
Celtic (home), 0-0 draw
A look at the recent matches confirms that Motherwell are generally not involved in high scoring matches. They’ve only scored 3 goals in their last 5 league games, but only conceded 3 as well.
INJURIES, SUSPENSIONS AND JANUARY TRANSFERS
At the time of writing, the press conferences haven’t been held. As such, the only injury I believe Motherwell have is to Craig Tanner. Cedric Kipre had his red card rightfully overturned so is available to play.
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In January, Motherwell lost Moult, and Hammell retired. They also sold Alex Fisher to Yeovil Town. To replace them, they brought in Main, loaned in Ciftci, and signed defenders Aldred and Hendrie on loan as well. They have a young squad, with the lowest average age in the league at 25.
PREFERRED SYSTEM AND APPROACH
Motherwell have played a 3-5-2 for most of their games this season. In some matches, they’ve changed to a 4-4-2 and used a diamond in midfield. They average just under 50% possession in matches. Of all sides in the league, they have the 2nd lowest number of passes at 8944. The players who tend to play the most passes are McHugh, Kipre, Tait and Dunne. They look to play a strong defensive style, and are physical and direct in their attacking play.
For this match, I suspect they’ll stick with the 3-5-2, and have a similar team to their last league match. Carson will start in goals, with Kipre, Aldred and Dunne in front of him. McHugh is the defensive midfielder, with Cadden playing central midfield recently as well. The other spot there will most likely be either Campbell or Bigirimana. It’s likely they’ll play Main and Ciftci up front in the absence of Tanner, and have Tait and Frear in the wide positions.
As mentioned, Motherwell play a very direct and physical type of game. They have the highest number of crosses in the league, at 643. Tait, Cadden and Frear are their most frequent crossers of the ball. All three of them are in the top 10 for attempted crosses of anyone in the Premiership. Over 90 minutes, Frear averages 9 crosses per match, much higher than anyone else. Cadden tends to take set pieces, where they cause teams loads of problems.
A further indication of their style is their 1v1 stats. They average just under 9 per match, which is the second lowest in the league. This is despite them having a decent possession average. They have around 10 shots per match, and many of those are headed efforts. This has led to them having the lowest percentage of shots on target at 32%.
THE PHYSICAL SIDE
Due to how they’ve played against Rangers so far, and especially in the League Cup semi-final, Rangers fans see Motherwell as an overly physical team. They have conceded 471 fouls, the highest in the league. Of those, McHugh is the biggest individual offender on 58, and has 12 yellow cards this season. They also have 2304 aerial duels this season, which again is the most in the league by quite a margin. Whilst they win around 48% on average, their defenders all have high stats for winning headers. Bowman is involved in the most duels, but only wins around 38%.
With 2066 defensive duels, Motherwell have the 4th lowest number in the Premiership. Their success rate of around 22% is average for the league. However, Kipre currently has a success rate of 35%, making him one of the top 5 in this regard overall. Carl McHugh faces the most in their squad at 285. Wyscout rate him as the best defensive midfielder in the league statistically.
They have conceded only 1 goal from a header, and nothing directly from free kicks. Carson has made 69 saves this season in 26 appearances, and faced 101 shots. He has a similar average to Foderingham over 90 minutes.
PREDICTED RANGERS APPROACH
Rangers go into this match with some movement on injured players, but not anything that’s likely to be available to make changes to the starting team. Rangers have the second best away record in the league, and by far the most goals scored away from home. As pointed out, Motherwell are much stronger at home than away. This points to a match where both sides will feel some confidence in their ability to win. However, with Motherwell being a team who concede a lot of fouls, the game is unlikely to be one that has good, flowing passages of play.
There are no real easily identifiable defensive weaknesses for Motherwell. They win headers well in defence, they have strong players for defensive duels, and don’t concede often at their own ground. Rangers have defeated them twice in the league, but the League Cup semi-final still stings. I suspect we’ll see only one change from the team that started against Kilmarnock. As such, Rangers will need to battle to win the match, and earn the right to play some football as Motherwell look to make that impossible.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP
As Russell Martin isn’t the strongest in the air, Motherwell will look to target him. Alves will be key to the defensive side of the match. In midfield, Docherty and Goss will need a little more support from the three attacking midfielders to win battles in there. Morelos will look to hold up the ball and get Rangers up the park.
I believe we’ll see Graham Dorrans make the bench, and hopefully get some time on the pitch. Cummings showed against Kilmarnock that he’s not quite at his sharpest just yet. Whilst many fans are critical of Windass, his record in away matches makes him vital in this game. With McHugh being clearly influential for Motherwell, Windass will need to play well to find space and cause Motherwell problems.
This will be a difficult match, and probably not a great one to watch. However, I feel that Rangers will get the win in this one, with a 2-1 victory mirroring their result in the first game of the season. If the team is unable to find a high level of performance early in the match, though, there will be some concerns.
How do you see the game going on Saturday? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!