Focus on St Mirren: How Stubbs could dent Rangers' strong start under Gerrard
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

St Mirren: How they could hurt Rangers and weaknesses Gerrard could exploit

Rangers produced their best half of football since Steven Gerrard took over in the second period of the 3-1 Europa League qualification win over Maribor to continue the Liverpool icon’s strong start in the hotseat.

There is an early feeling of optimism around Ibrox that Gerrard will be hoping to continue when the Gers host St Mirren, which sees him face off against Alan Stubbs once again.

The pair used to be on opposite sides of the Merseyside divide south of the border and now the former Everton man is looking to prevent Gerrard collecting his first league win in charge of Rangers.

But how will he go about doing so? We’ve taken a look at St Mirren’s opening day win over Dundee for some clues…

14th July 2018, Forthbank Stadium, Stirling, Scotland; Scottish League Cup football, Group D, Stirling Albion versus Dundee; St Mirren manager Alan Stubbs watches the match from the stands (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Perhaps St Mirren’s biggest weapon right now is the feel-good factor around the club. They are still riding on the wave of promotion from the Championship and last weekend’s match was played out in front of a party atmosphere.

Jack Ross may have departed for Sunderland to be replaced by Stubbs, but the optimism remains in-tact. That manifested itself in a fast start against Dundee, and while Stubbs might be more cautious at Ibrox, the early energy should remain the same.

In terms of goal threat, Danny Mullen wasted no time getting off the mark, bagging his side’s first goal of the season after just eight minutes and completed his double with the winner seven minutes from time.

He was aided by a dreadful error from visiting goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, which allowed Ryan Flynn to set lay him on for the winner but an on-form Mullen should provide a test for Rangers’ new-look backline.

4th August 2018, Simple Digital Arena, Paisley, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, St Mirren versus Dundee; Danny Mullen of St Mirren celebrates after scoring for 1-0 in the 8th minute (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

In terms of weaknesses, the first element to note is that Stubbs has admitted he is still in the market for extra quality to bolster his squad. Gavin Reilly and Lewis Morgan were huge under Ross last season but Stubbs cannot call upon either in the top flight.

Against Dundee, St Mirren’s strong start subsided to allow their visitors back into the game and they simply allowed too many shots on their own goal, which will not please Stubbs as a former defender.

Sofien Moussa missed a penalty as Neil McCann’s side spurned a host of big chances to put themselves in the lead – with Jean Alassane Mendy among the worst offenders.

That means that Gerrard’s confident and incisive Rangers side should get plenty of goalscoring opportunities if they play as they have done in recent weeks and the rescission of Alfredo Morelos means they have their top marksman available to slot them away.

There is plenty in that opening day encounter that will encourage Gerrard, but the fact that Stubbs’ side came out on top will only serve to increase their optimism and confidence ahead of the trip to Ibrox.





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