Steven Gerrard’s Rangers are now just one game away from finishing the season unbeaten.
The champions earned a comfortable 3-0 win against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Wednesday evening, with Gerrard delighted with his team’s performance after the game.
Goals from James Tavernier, Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi secured the win against David Martindale’s side, although Rangers were perhaps fortunate not to concede, with the hosts hitting the woodwork twice and missing a number of opportunities in the game.
Following the full-time whistle, Gerrard was full of praise for Nigeria international Joe Aribo, who filled in at left-back in the absence of Borna Barisic and Calvin Bassey, with the 40-year-old manager saying:
“A manager can ask a player to do a role and good players can do some and good players can’t do some – but Joe Aribo is a top player.
“Whatever I ask him to do, he goes out and gives it his best shot.
“He’s my man of the match tonight just because, if you think about it, he’s a number 10.
“And he’s just been so comfortable at left-back, cruised it and breezed it.
“That left-back performance is as good as we’ve seen in my three years of being here.
“So well done to him for parking his ego and doing a job for his teammates.”
Although the former Charlton Athletic man is obviously not a natural at left-back and stepped up admirably, Gerrard’s praise for him feels slightly over the top when you consider his overall performance.
Two of Livingston’s best opportunities of the game coming down Aribo’s side, with Jaze Kabia somehow hitting the post when presented with an open goal after Nicky Devlin’s cross, before another cross from the Livingston right-back led to Kabia missing again from just a few yards out.
As per SofaScore, Aribo would earn a 6.6/10 rating for his performance against Livingston, with only Kemar Roofe (6.5) and Jack Simpson (6.4) rated lower of the Rangers players who started the game, which again emphasises that Gerrard was perhaps wrong to call him his man-of-the-match.
During his time on the pitch, the 24-year-old would lose possession 24 times, which was the joint-most of any player who featured.
Just 32/43 of Aribo’s passes on Wednesday evening were accurate, resulting in a less than impressive 74% pass accuracy rate, which is comfortably below the 84.4% he has averaged in the Premiership this season.
He was also accurate with just one of his five long balls, and none of his crosses found a Rangers shirt, so it is difficult to argue that this was one of the best left-back performances for Rangers, especially considering the form Barisic has shown in that position throughout his time at Ibrox.
Therefore, whilst Aribo did a solid job out of position on Wednesday evening and he deserves credit for playing there, Gerrard’s post-match comments were way over the top.
And, in other news… Forget Wright: Gerrard can sign Rangers’ next Ryan Kent in £3.42m-rated wizard