It’s almost hard to believe but Glasgow Rangers are on a 16-game unbeaten run at the moment after a disjointed display against Lech Poznan in the Europa League on Thursday night. Not that you’d necessarily know it, especially when you consider the fact that Steven Gerrard’s side struggled to break down a side who are currently tenth in the Polish top flight.
A couple of culprits were largely at fault, including Scott Arfield and Ryan Kent, but one player in particularly stood out from the rest for all the wrong reasons – Ianis Hagi.
That’s right, the 14-cap Romania international struggled to make much of an impression, which is exactly why Gerrard must unleash Joe Aribo against Kilmarnock.
According to GlasgowLive, Hagi had ‘a few untidy moments on the ball and struggled to influence the game as he did at the weekend’ before he was replaced by Aribo just after the break.
The 24-year-old only had 21 minutes to work with but still tried to make something happen during his brief cameo, which is more than can be said for his teammate. A look at his heatmap reveals a hub of activity on the right wing, including a short burst inside the box.
Aribo, who earns £8,100-a-week according to Salary Sport, missed the home game against Kilmarnock at the start of the season due to injury but could be in contention to start at Rugby Park. In fact, it’s worth remembering the 4-cap Nigeria international started the game against Livingston last weekend.
Recently described as an “exceptional” powerhouse by Charlton boss Lee Bowyer, on talkSPORT, as quoted by The Daily Record, Aribo has already scored two goals in five games in the Scottish Premiership this season so far, via Transfermarkt. By comparison, Hagi has only managed to score once in 11 appearances in the Scottish top flight, as per Transfermarkt.
The beauty of balancing both domestic and European competitions is that it provides Gerrard with the opportunity to rotate his squad, which is exactly what we think he will do against Killie. Whilst Aribo has only recently returned from injury, the attacking midfielder certainly made up for lost time by scoring against Livingston to help secure the victory. When was the last time that Hagi scored? We can’t really remember, either. It’ll be a big call to make, that’s for sure.