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Rangers’ set-piece strength will be crucial this season

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Rangers scored from two corners in their dramatic 2-1 over Kilmarnock at the weekend, and this route to goal will be pivotal for the Gers throughout the campaign.

On the chalkboard

Goals from Connor Goldson and Scott Arfield gave Steven Gerrard’s men all three points as they visited the tricky Rugby Park over the weekend. Both were a result of James Tavernier corners, with Arfield reacting quickest to Nikola Katic’s saved header and Goldson bulleting in direct from the defender’s dead-ball.

Not only did it give Gerrard a vital win on the opening day of the season, but it brought his first ever win over Killie in the Premiership, a milestone that’s far from meaningless given the trouble they caused him last term.

And winning the game thanks to two great set-piece deliveries, met by two towering headers from centre-backs, could be an important and often repeated method this season.

An aerial threat

In Katic and Goldson, Rangers clearly have two central defenders capable of winning the first ball from set-piece situations. Their prowess in the air, coupled with 6 foot 3 new signing Filip Helander’s obvious advantage at set-pieces, means the club have great targets for free-kicks and corners.

More importantly, they have the perfect player to find those targets in Tavernier. The right-back amassed a stunning 20 assists in 57 outings last year and the majority came as a result of his wand-like right-foot.

His delivery, as witnessed on Sunday, is pinpoint and with giants Katic, Goldson and Helander to aim at you’d expect Killie won’t be the last side to concede a few headed goals to the Gers this season.

And it’s a good thing that the Gers are so well-equipped to cause problems from set-pieces, because they do tend to struggle to create clear-cut chances in cagey affairs against park-the-bus teams. With Gerrard sticking to his 4-3-3, there’s no obvious space for a creator in the side.

Arfield works hard from the left, Sheyi Ojo is a direct winger and Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe are far more adept at scoring from the final pass, not making it.

Gerrard’s midfield three are typically hard-workers and tidy in possession but none are players that you’d expect to get near Tavernier’s 20 assist mark from last season.

This lack of goals and creativity from midfield is certainly an issue, but if Tavernier and the towering boys in the middle keep linking up at set-pieces, it shouldn’t stop the Gers from really challenging their age-old foes this season.

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Article title: Rangers’ set-piece strength will be crucial this season

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