Motherwell 2 – 0 Ross County
Ross County 1 – 2 Aberdeen
Ross County 2 – 3 Motherwell
Dundee 1 – 2 Ross County
Rangers travel to Dingwall on Sunday looking to regain momentum and close the (ever increasing) gap with the teams above them. So far Rangers have shown in periods of games that they can create chances by playing both through the middle and from interplay out wide.
It is unlikely that Caixinha will do anything drastic to the starting line-up when he believes that it is only a matter of time for the team to click. Josh Windass is out, still struggling with a rib injury after landing on John Souttar’s knee following his goal saving tackle when Windass was put clean through against Hearts last week. Going off previous selections it is likely Kranjcar would come in for Windass although Pedro may throw in a surprise….
Pena and Herrera both appear to be nearing full fitness and the latter may replace Hardie on the bench which would be harsh given the impact Hardie made. More direct, playing on the last man and genuine pace. He is also a confident finisher. It would be interesting to see a change in our two forwards. Morelos is accepted as a definite, he looks determined, committed and above all a quality finisher but he must get the supply and help from a partner. We’ve not seen him with Herrera yet and that could be the most effective pairing given the number of crosses Candeias, Tavernier and Wallace put into the box. Herrera could’ve been the difference v Hearts given the extra presence he brings to the attack.
Ross County have set up with a 4-5-1 and recently with a 3-5-2. I’d expect them to follow Hearts example and look to sit in with most if not all their players behind the ball. One thing Rangers didn’t do enough of last week but when they did it caused problems was break defensive lines with the ball at feet rather than passing into congested areas. Cardoso, Jack and Dorrans are all capable of carrying the ball forward and should look to engage defenders, creating space behind them rather than playing in front or to the side of them. This especially frees up Wallace and Tavernier to get in behind.
Miller, if picked, must keep his shape. He arguably had our three best chances v Hearts but only because he was in and around the six-yard box. If Niko plays, Miller doesn’t need to be dropping deep trying to dictate play.
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The game will be physical if last season’s encounters are anything to go by. Especially the last game at Dingwall where Ross County were very lucky not to have a couple of players sent off for persistent fouling. Every Rangers break was halted with either a pulled jersey or cynical trip. However, you can’t blame Ross County as they didn’t lose a game against Rangers with three draws over the course of the season. Expect much of the same!
County were significantly weakened in the summer by the loss of Liam Boyce who’s 23 goals in 35 goals was an incredible return for a bottom six club. Six goals more than £40m rated Moussa Dembele in the league. He left for an undisclosed fee in the summer (a club record for Burton Albion but probably not £40m) and has been replaced by Billy McKay who is just returning to fitness following groin surgery. Apparently, he has been carrying the injury for 18 months hence his drop in form. Craig Curran and Alex Schalk are more likely to start up front on their own.
Rangers need to start quickly, get an early goal then dictate the play. The profligacy in front of goal is creating extra pressure for the defence, the manager and this early in the season it is important that a run of positive results and performances set the tone for the whole season.
I’m going for a 3-0 win to Rangers with Morelos, Miller and a Dorrans penalty. I’d expect Kranjcar to start due to Windass’ absence but you never know, Pedro isn’t scared to throw a youngster in at the deep end. But for an incredible refereeing performance v Hibs, Rangers could’ve been on 7 points from 9, I agree with Pedro, we aren’t far away but need to find consistency of results more than anything just now, then worry about style.