Glasgow Rangers’ strong start to the season continued on Sunday afternoon as Steven Gerrard’s side cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership at Ibrox to move 11 points clear of Celtic at the top of the table.
Rangers have won 18 out of their last 21 games in all competitions as they aim to stop Celtic from winning ten titles in a row. But they came dangerously close to losing their unbeaten streak after they shipped two late goals to draw with 10-man Benfica in the Europa League at the beginning of the month.
Sam Cosgrove, Ryan Hedges and Matty Kennedy all had their chances at times for Aberdeen but they failed to take the opportunity to put pressure on the 54-time Scottish champions.
However, the Ibrox boss should be concerned by the fact that only valiant efforts from Allan McGregor and Connor Goldson were enough to ensure that the Gers kept a second consecutive clean sheet.
Gerrard deployed Ryan Jack in the centre of the midfield, his fourth straight start and 13th appearance of the campaign in all competitions which could have backfired horrendously had the Dons been able to find the back of the net, as he was uncharacteristically lacklustre.
Per SofaScore, he received the joint-lowest rating out of the entire starting XI, having lost possession nine times, committed two fouls and only won 50% of his ground duels overall as well as only making one tackle, whilst he failed to register a single clearance or interception, so it’s perhaps hardly surprising he was replaced by Steven Davis in the second half.
Quite why Davis didn’t start we’ll probably never understand, although it may have had something to do with his withdrawal from the Northern Ireland squad last week.
The defensive midfielder, who earns wages worth £18,000-per-week, hasn’t been named in the starting line-up for the past couple of games, which is quite simply baffling as he has been one of the club’s best players in recent weeks, especially when you consider the fact that the Gers are getting ready for the Benfica rematch on Thursday night.
Glen Kamara is the only Gers midfielder who has been given a higher statistical score by WhoScored than the 35-year-old for his performances in the Europa League.
In two appearances in the European competition, Davis is averaging 3 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game, which is some way above what Jack has managed, whilst he has also mustered 1.5 shots, via WhoScored, which shows that he is a useful attacking asset as well.
Davis is a player who performs well in the biggest occasions, that’s for sure, with former Gers manager Alex McLeish calling him “incredible” for becoming the most-capped player for his country in the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final against Bosnia-Herzegovina last month.
Therefore, Gerrard must ensure that the enforcer is recalled for the home game against Benfica on Thursday night, as he was named the Man of the Match for the away trip to Lisbon last time out.