Glasgow Rangers delivered a big statement by beating Aberdeen at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon to send Steven Gerrard’s side six points clear of Celtic at the summit of the Scottish Premiership.
The 54-time Scottish champions struck twice in the first half before a goal from Scott Arfield after the break and James Tavernier’s eighth penalty of the season gave the Gers an unassailable four-goal lead.
However, there was one notable absentee, as Bongani Zungu was nowhere to be seen. It’s since been revealed that the South Africa international is still injured and will miss tonight’s game against Benfica in the Europa League at Ibrox. Ryan Jack also remains a doubt after suffering a knee injury whilst away on international duty.
This means that Gerrard will be without the new summer signing for the next group stage match, whilst Jack faces a race against time to prove his fitness, which may leave the Ibrox boss short of midfield options.
It’s likely the in-form Glen Kamara will be recalled to the starting line-up, which means that Gerrard will have to choose from Arfield, Joe Aribo and Steven Davis to form the midfield three.
Aribo could be in contention with Arfield having played the past two games in a row but the former Canada international has been the trusted man for the big occasion in recent years.
Gerrard has spoken admirably about the Canadian in the past, once describing him as the “perfect professional” and admitting “he’s like the glue in the dressing-room.”
The 32-year-old became Gerrard’s first signing after the former Burnley midfielder signed a four-year-deal in 2018 and he has repaid the favour with consistent performances over the years.
Arfield has made over a hundred appearances for the Gers, whilst he has scored 26 goals and supplied 17 assists in all competitions so far.
Naturally, the new signings have seen him somewhat fall down the pecking order, as he barely featured for the club at the beginning of the campaign, whilst his contract is set to expire in 2022. But this could be the best chance for him to stake his claim for a place in the starting line-up.
The Gers are currently tied with Benfica at the top of the Europa League Group D on seven points apiece, with the two sides sharing the spoils in Lisbon at the start of the month.
Whilst the Super Eagles fought back to tie the first game, Gerrard’s side will be viewed as the slight favourites off the back of their impressive home record, but they cannot afford to take the fixtures for granted, and Arfield will want to put in another commanding performance to send the Ibrox boss a timely reminder.