Match Preview: Aberdeen vs Rangers

By William Boyd
 July 31, 2020

Rangers travel to Pittodrie to kick start the new Scottish Premiership season. I would usually endorse the league sponsor but the people in charge have failed our game and so far leave us sponsor less.

Anyway...

Derek McInnes' men have made life very difficult for us particularly in Aberdeen. Since taking the reins at Ibrox, Gerrard has found this fixture tough to navigate.

Meeting Aberdeen 10 times in all competitions Gerrard’s record stands at 3 wins, 3 defeats and 4 draws. We have only tasted victory once at Pittodrie.

These games are fiery, intense and the crowd play a huge part in the outcome of any results. Finding ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, the supporters of both sides will have to make do with coverage on the telly.

How will the players of either side cope with no atmosphere? It remains to be seen if the quality of our game will take a hit with no fans in the grounds. I know I have struggled to watch the likes of the 'bigger' leagues in Europe playing football without the supporters. It usually looks like it impacts negatively on the teams playing; the games usually look more like a kick about at a park with mates.

However, our squad, in pre-season, have been doing very well without the supporters, putting together some impressive displays against the likes of Lyon and Nice, turning over Motherwell and battling against Coventry, this will hopefully set us up nicely against the Don's.

Let's turn our attention onto Aberdeen for a little break down of who I believe to be the key players for Aberdeen.

Goalkeeper Joe Lewis is an absolute Colossus. I have always been very impressed with the Englishman. He seems to use his big frame very well and is usually on top form when we face him. His distribution is usually something Aberdeen do not always utilise against us but it is something we should be wary of.

Scott McKenna is always up for the physical battle with Morelos. Both players are equally as guilty when it comes to the naughty side of the game. I'm sure this personal battle will restart as soon as Bobby Madden blows his whistle.

Lewis Ferguson is one to watch in the midfield for me, on his day he can be pivotal to everything Aberdeen look to do. He also does a lot of the dirty work with minimal fuss. He can be a serious threat when attacking.

Up front Aberdeen usually provide a tough and hardworking forward man but just as I was about to pinpoint Sam Cosgrove news has filtered through he will be injured and most likely miss the rest of this calendar year. Rumour is that Bruce Anderson will lead the front line.

Let's focus on the reason you're all (hopefully) still reading, Rangers. The depth at Gerrard’s disposal must be envied by most managers in the league.

Despite this I am sure we will dip into the transfer market and add 2 or 3 more players to the squad, especially given the rumours surrounding Alfredo Morelos' future.

Let's focus a little bit on our players and how pre-season has treated them.

I'll leave the goalkeeping position alone as I believe Allan McGregor will start the season as first choice, although Jon McLaughlin is more than capable to step in when required.

Our central defence has not changed at all during preseason so despite Leon Balogun joining us I fully expect Goldson and Edmondson to be that pairing.

Barišić could be a key player on Saturday afternoon. With his delivery from open play as well as the dead ball situations we have already seen him link up with Hagi and he is always looking to get involved in the attacking plays. He has had a complete transformation since that free kick in Paisley.

Midfield has to be more forward thinking it seems when Jack and Kamara are sitting deep, practically on the CBs toes and when we're looking to break down teams it doesn't look like it's working well enough when the time starts to run down.

Joe Aribo has come back looking completely different to the boy we seen last season. Pre-season could not have gone any better for him and the consistency that was lacking last season so far looks to be gone. Have we cracked it? Only time will tell.

Ryan Kent has also impressed me minus the 'slap' in France. He's come back having only his first pre-season with us despite the two previous years at Ibrox. I will mark Ryan in the key man category purely for how he's appeared on the field. His numbers of assists and goals have been pretty poor in my opinion and I expect so much more from him. Hopefully he shines on through on Saturday and for the rest of the season.

The man in the headlines these past seven to ten days is Alfredo Morelos. Morelos has been holding the ball up well and linking with teammates and despite only scoring a penalty against Hamilton he has looked decent in the games so far. He was heavily frustrated when Gerrard took him off with half an hour still to see out against Coventry.

Make no mistake this fixture on Saturday is going to be difficult but it is also going to be different. A place we have struggled at but without any of the angry dons support in attendance it will be down to the players to use that as an advantage. They've coped with this unique experience so far but can they continue?

Tune in to Sky Sports at 11.30am to catch the build up to what should be a thrilling game and one that will not be short on drama.

Written by William Boyd (@Wullie93)

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