As Rangers get set for another must-win match, we take a look at Motherwell ahead of the meeting with the Steelmen at Fir Park.
The two sides will face each other on Sunday after Rangers’ Europa League exploits against FC Ufa. However, in order for Gerrard to continue his unbeaten start to life at Ibrox, he’ll need to be wary of several aspects.
Steve Robinson’s Motherwell have been a solid outfit ever since he walked in the door to replace Mark McGhee. The Northern Irishman has built a system in place and seems to consistently find suitable players for his style.
Motherwell play a 3-5-2 system that never changes regardless of opposition. The flat midfield five are extremely fluid, and Robinson has boosted numbers in that area this season. The Steelmen supremo has a plethora of midfield options this term that are reliable and able to seamlessly slot into the system.
The North Lanarkshire outfit don’t use a lot of pace, and instead play a direct style that plays to the strengths of their strikers. They feel their style can bully any defence in the Premiership when on their game, and they may have a case.
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The midfield five are all about aggression. The likes of Allan Campbell, Carl McHugh, and Liam Grimshaw aren’t known for their technical ability. Instead, they turn every game into a battle and look to grind out results.
As well as that though, this Motherwell side can play. It’s rare that they decide to, but on occasion they can play a sweet passing game to get their wingers involved. The likes of Chris Cadden thrives on a passing game to help him pick his spot to make advancing runs.
However, it’s more likely that Robinson’s side go with the straightforward direct route that Rangers have struggled against in the past.
The Key Men
Your immediately drawn to Curtis Main when it comes to Motherwell’s star-man. His physique is matched by his technical quality, and is such a handful.
He offers something more physical than Louis Moult did, but is also a clinical finisher. In saying that, the front-man is on a rough patch, and is yet to net in the league. His only two strikes have come against Edinburgh City and Clyde in the Betfred Cup group stages.
Instead, Rangers need to keep their eyes on Danny Johnson. Another front-man with just two goals, his last came against Livingston in the Betfred Cup last weekend.
He has proven to be such an industrious worker up top, and has some quick feet. His battling qualities have seen him out-muscle and bully a couple of defences already. Whilst it’s early days in his Motherwell career, he’s been constantly praised by Robinson, and never seems to tire.
Johnson has also proven to have a bullet of a left-foot. Some of his drives against both Hamilton and Hibernian were close-calls. He’s the unknown threat, and Gerrard needs to ensure he does some homework on him before the trip to Fir Park.
If Johnston is an unknown threat, Cadden is a well-known one.
The Scotland Under-21 international has been touted for a move away from Motherwell for a couple of years. However, he’s stayed loyal to Robinson and put in some real shifts under the Northern Irishman.
In the last year, Cadden has fallen away slightly, bagging just four goals over the previous campaign. He’s also yet to score in this one despite playing in five of their last six.
Where Rangers can hurt them
To put it simply – down either flank.
Motherwell’s defensive three can make it simple to stretch them if the opposition is quick enough.
Rangers have Daniel Candeias and Ryan Kent available down either flank, and both have shown their speed. With Jamie Murphy injured, Kent is the one with the responsibility to create down the left. They are the main two who have to be looked at to harm this Motherwell side.
James Tavernier also seems to turn it on against the Steelmen, and his overlaps will be invaluable to working the defence. Motherwell try to get a lot of men back when not in possession, so his crossing ability could be key to unlocking this Steelmen defence.
It’ll be a tough shift, but Rangers can send another signal that they’re back with a convincing win at Fir Park.