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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Sunday 3rd April 2005, 14:00 at Fir Park.

PREVIEW

The chances are we'll be going into Sunday's game trailing Celtic by 5 points. Truth is that it doesn't matter. We know we have 8 games let to play and must win them all- end of story. 3 points in Motherwell on Saturday is a must.

The Well will be looking for revenge after their cup final mauling at the hands of Rangers. They'll be looking to get some respect back. also on the agenda is securing their top 6 spot with Killie and Inverness chasing them up to matchday 33 before the split.

It won't be an easy game but I do expect 3 points from this one. It's been a long time since we lost to Motherwell but we have done under Alex McLeish. In the treble winning season of 2002/03 Motherwell beat Rangers 1-0 at Fir Park thanks to a James McFadden goal halfway through the second half. They haven't looked like beating us since, although the 1-1 games last season was close. This season we have scored 11 goals against them in 3 meetings- that should breed enough confidence to win this one.

Code:
[b]SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE TOP SIX
_______________________
           P   W  D  L  F  A   GD Pts
[color=darkgreen]Celtic     30  25 2  3  70 24  46 77[/color] 
[color=blue]Rangers    30  23 6  1  63 14  49 75[/color]
[color=green]Hibs       30  15 5 10  51 43   8 50[/color]
[color=red]Aberdeen   30  14 7  9  34 27   7 49[/color]
[color=darkred]Hearts     30  12 9  9  35 29   6 45[/color] 
[color=darkorange]Motherwell 29  11 6 15  34 35   0 39[/b][/color]
MOTHERWELL

Motherwell have been on a decent unbeaten run of late in the league since losing to Dundee 6 games previously. The CIS Cup defeat to Rangers by 5-1 will have dented that confidence though. Here are their last 5 results in the league.

  • 1-1 Livingston (Away)
  • 2-0 Dundee United (Home)
  • 1-1 Dunfermline (Away)
  • 2-0 Hearts (Home)
  • 1-1 Hibs (Home)
RANGERS

Rangers have not been playing their best football of late in the league and instead grinding out results. The CIS Cup performance though saw them back to their best and will hopefully give them a lift. There is no room for error now and 8 cup finals lie ahead of them. Here are their last 5 results in the league.

  • 2-0 Dundee (Away)
  • 1-1 Inverness (Home)
  • 2-1 Hearts (Away)
  • 2-1 Kilmarnock (Home)
  • 2-0 Celtic (Away)
HEAD TO HEAD

The sides have met three times this season with Rangers winning all three matches. They are will possibly meet again after the split.

SPL, 17th Oct 2004
Motherwell 0(0)-(1)2 Rangers
Prso 7, 83

SPL, 27th Dec 2004
Rangers 4(2)-(0)1 Motherwell
Novo 3, 15, McDonald 49, Arveladze 53, Thompson 86

CIS Cup Final, 20th Mar 2005
Rangers 5(3)-(1)1 Motherwell
Ross 5, Kyrgiakos 9, Partridge 13, Ricksen 33, Novo 48, Kyrgiakos 86
________________________________

THE TEAM

McLeish is unlikely to change the team that started the CIS Cup final. Andrews has declared himself fit but I doubt McLeish will want to risk him at the moment. Malcolm should fit in there to deputise. After the broken down contract talks it will be interestinf to see if Vignal starts. If he does not then Alex Rae, Peter Lovenkrands or Bojan Djordjic will have the chance to stake their claim.

----------------Waterreus

---------Kyrgiakos--------Malcolm

Ross---------------------------------Ball

---- Ricksen------Fergsuon------Vignal

----------------Buffel

--------------Prso--------Novo
________________________________

Prediction: 2-0 to Rangers.

As always I'll attach the match report to the first post for easy access.

________________________________

RESULT: SPL, matchday thirty-one (3rd Apr 2005)

Motherwell 2(0)-(2)3 Rangers


MOTHERWELL TEAM: Marshall, Paul Quinn, Craigan, Partridge, Hammell, McBride, Leitch, Corrigan, Paterson, Clarkson, Scott McDonald.
RANGERS TEAM: Waterreus, Ricksen, Kyrgiakos, Malcolm, Ball, Namouchi, Ferguson, Alex Rae, Vignal, Prso, Novo.

REFEREE: D McDonald
ATTENDANCE: 10,210

Match Events:

04
Vignal Motherwell 0-1 Rangers
08
McDonald
32
Vignal Motherwell 0-2 Rangers
45
Kyrgiakos
51
Prso Motherwell 0-3 Rangers
56
Ferguson
59
Foran for Paterson
61
Lovenkrands for Vignal
66
Arveladze for Namouchi
71
McBride Motherwell 1-3 Rangers
71
Khizanishvili for Kyrgiakos
78
Clarkson
79
Foran
79
Ferguson
81
Britton for Clarkson
84
Corrigan Motherwell 2-3 Rangers
89
Ricksen
90
Craigan



Code:
[b]SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE TOP SIX
_______________________
           P   W  D  L  F  A   GD Pts
[color=blue]Rangers    31  24 6  1  66 16  50 78[/color]
[color=darkgreen]Celtic     31  25 2  4  70 26  44 77[/color] 
[color=green]Hibs       31  16 5 10  54 45   9 53[/color]
[color=red]Aberdeen   31  15 7  9  35 27   8 52[/color]
[color=darkred]Hearts     31  13 9  9  37 29   8 48[/color] 
[color=darkorange]Motherwell 30  11 6 16  36 38  -1 39[/b][/color]
Match:

Long term absentees Klos and Andrews are going to have a negative effect on our defensive record. It's an area we are going to have to look at in the run-in if we are to lift the league title. On top of this McLeish was forced to make two changes to the team that crushed Motherwell in the CIS Cup final. Maurice Ross had a groin strain so was replaced by Alex Rae and Buffel picked up an injury on international duty so was replaced by Namouchi.

I'm really not to certain how Rangers lined up. When I saw the starting 11 I expected the usual 4-3-1-2 with Ricksen moving to right back and Namouchi playing behind the strikers. My brother and I both came to the conclusion 5 minutes into the match that it was actually a 3-5-2 which McLeish has never used before. This did change though during the match but to us this is how we thought they lined up:

-----------------------Waterreus

-------------Malcolm--------Kyrgiakos--------Ball

Namouchi-----Ricksen-----Ferguson-----A.Rae-----Vignal

-------------------Prso--------Novo

Rangers started well, much in the same way they did at Hampden. They were obviously up for it. This was a change from the attitude prior to the CIS Cup final. The first bit of silverware had obviously given them a lift.

4 minutes in Vignal scored a beauty. With his weaker foot he hammered home into the top corner from the edge of the box. Motherwell did start to creep back into the game but Rangers looked the moer likely to score. 32 minutes in and Namouchi curled in a fantastic ball which Vignal met with his head. Marshall was caught in no man's land and Rangers were cruising at 2-0.

As the first half wore on Motherwell got more physical. It was surprising that only two cards were handed out. Alex Rae had an off the ball incident in the midfield after being upended after the ball was played. Ricksen and Kyrgiakos were both limping at different stages after taking a whack. Although Kyrgiakos did get revenge and a card when he sudded Craigan in the boz while he was on the deck.

6 minutes into the second half it looked like the game was all over. Another great delivery from a Fernando Ricksen free kick was met by the head of Prso and again Marshall was left helpless after coming for the ball. It was 3-0 and the game was all but won.

The niggling was getting worse and players were kicking each other at every chance. Ferguson was booked for a late tackle. It was a yellow card on it's own but referee McDonald had let similar challenges go uncarded from both sides before that. Not long after Lovenkrands came on he was tripped off the ball by young Paul Quinn but none of the officials saw it.

Rangers were on easy street and just had to see the game out. Bob Malcolm had other ideas though. Not for the first time he was cuaght flatfooted in the box but at least there was no danger as the ball bounced towards him. For some reason only known to him he hit the ball with his arm. The penalty was awarded and Motherwell had a lifeline.

With just over 10 minutes to go Rangers were still comforable when the controversy started. Alex Rae recieved a pass from Ferguson and while doing so Foran ran into Ferguson. Rae then passed the ball back to Ferguson and Foran this time took a two footed lunge at Ferguson. As Ferguson got up he had Foran in a headlock but quickly released him. Alex Rae had also been caught in the same incident by Clarkson as Motherwell really stuck the boot in. The two Motherwell players got their yellow cards and Ferguson got his second.

It wasn't a backs to the wall job by any means but with 6 minutes to go Craigan hit a shot from well outside the box which Waterrues had covered. Malcolm decided it would be a good idea to attempt a block with his elbow. The deflection sent the ball into the oppsite side of the goal and Motherwell were back in the game. There was only a goal in it and Motherwell had the extra man. Rangers had also used all their subs so of the 9 outfield players 4 were attackers which didn't help.

Not long after though a great move saw Rangers save the game with a fourth goal. Arveladze got on the end of a through ball and put it in the net. The referee decided though that Shota had shoved a Motherwell defender to get there so it was chopped off.

Rangers finished with all 3 points in what was a good performance. Namouchi and Novo didn't have good games. Malcolm had an absoloute nightmare. Of the subs Zurab was the only one to look like Rangers quality with the other two disappearing for the majority of their short spell.
 

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This is one of those games when the size of the league and playing each other so regularly (plus what happens in the cups) is just made ridiculous.

So it's Motherwell last week in the cup, Motherwell this week in the league and a chance of Motherwell again in 2 or 3 weeks in the league!

it HAS to be 3 points as you say - any more slip ups and the league is over :(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree, the games do come around too quick against the same opposition. Must be hard to get motivated too. I remember a month or so ago Hearts played Killie 3 times in the space of a week. A bigger league wouldn't make the league more competative but would at least cut out the number of times each team meets.

McLeish has said the CIS party now over and it's back to concntrating on the league. I think getting the silverware in the bag removes a large weight from the team and manager's shoulders. They now know they are not going to have a trophyless season and all distractions are out of the way. The can concentrate solely on the remaining 8 league games and then the season is over.
 

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Traditionally I always dread our visits to Fir Park, but hopefully our win the other week will have left some mental scars on the 'Well youngsters (and Gordon Marshall). Logically this should be a routine win, but this Rangers team doesn't seem to associate itself with logic. For once, i'd like to see us get the early breakthroughs to end the game. If we keep scraping out edgy one goal wins it will eventually begin to eat away at the players. Having said that, i'll take 1-0 right now.

There's no reason for McLeish to rush Andrews back for this game, so Malcolm will retain his place. Although it could be argued that Andrews' absence cost us the goal in the cup final, Malcolm was competent enough. I was going to say Arveladze would provide attacking options from the bench, but according to soccernet he's not even on the bench for Georgia. Any money he picked up another injury in Saturday's match :rollani:.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Big Marv has pulled out of the squad, Buffel is a doubt but will probably start on the bench, Lovenkrands looks like starting from the bench again and Shota could be back. With Buffel and Andrews missing from the starting line-up I think Malcolm and Zurab will start in McLeish's more defensive 4-1-3-2 formation.

----------------Waterreus

---------Kyrgiakos--------Zurab

Ross---------------------------------Ball

----------------Malcolm

---- Ricksen------Fergsuon------Vignal

--------------Prso--------Novo

Or he may decide to go to a 4-4-2 bringing in Lovenkrands and Burke. Vignal might not play due to the contract problems at the moment. Alternatively bring in Alex Rae with Ricksen being pushed wide right:

----------------Waterreus

Ross---------Kyrgiakos--------Zurab--------Ball

Ricksen----A.Rae------Fergsuon------Lovenkrands

--------------Prso--------Novo
 

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Just goes to show, you take a couple of players out of the team and it becomes really difficult to know what players to bring in and what system to play. To my mind, he's more likely to go with:

----------------Waterreus------------------

Ross-----Malcolm-------Kyrgiakos--------Ball

Ricksen-----Ferguson-----Rae---------Vignal

-------------Novo-----Prso-----------------

I guess we'll only find out on Sunday though. In terms of the left of midfield, I don't think it makes too much difference whether it's Vignal, Djordjic, or Lovenkrands. All pretty ordinary players imo.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I forgot to put Malcolm in, you're spot on there I think. The only position for me which is an uncertainty is the one you pointed out. Up until Vignal's contract talks he would have been a definite there, or at least starting. Now I'm not so sure.

I really hope though he doesn't drop Ball again to move Vignal to left back, that was accomodating Vignal in my opinion. I'd actually like to see Alex Rae get a start and hope this is going to be the case. I remember when he got his ban against CSKA Moscow it was a big blow yet recently he's hardly thought of.
 

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Stating the obvious, but tomorrow's match becomes even more important if that's possible. If we don't win, it could be a huge psychological setback for the boys. I'm really hoping we get those early goals because i'll start shitting myself after about half an hour if we're not in front.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think we've just been boosted to be honest. I think we'll win it hands down. I've got a funny feeling Novo is about to hit a purple patch for the Gers starting from tomorrow.
 

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chivoexpiatorio said:
I think we've just been boosted to be honest. I think we'll win it hands down. I've got a funny feeling Novo is about to hit a purple patch for the Gers starting from tomorrow.
I just hope any one of our players hits a purple patch tomorrow. I'm going to be on tender hooks all day.
 

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Was there a minute's silence at Fir Park today?
 

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Laddie said:
I dont think so KH. If there was, then there was no recognition of it On BBC Scotland radio.
Why would that be?

There was one at every other football ground today.
 

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I would guess you woudl have to ask the Motherwell side of it, as it would be them that decided the matter. But it would no doubt have a lot to do with the unsavoury element to our support and how they would take it.

As much as it disgusts me that many of our fans would not have the decency to respect the minutes silence, we know fine well that too many of them wouldn't. It would have been for the best, both for the safety of the people in the stadium and for the fact we know what would happen.

Its a sad state of affairs.
 

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Laddie said:
I would guess you woudl have to ask the Motherwell side of it, as it would be them that decided the matter. But it would no doubt have a lot to do with the unsavoury element to our support and how they would take it.

As much as it disgusts me that many of our fans would not have the decency to respect the minutes silence, we know fine well that too many of them wouldn't. It would have been for the best, both for the safety of the people in the stadium and for the fact we know what would happen.

Its a sad state of affairs.
So they were afraid that "the FTP brigade", ie Rangers fans, would bring further embarassment upon Scottish society to a wider audience following on from the Panorama programme.

Fair enough, i guess in that case their decision was the sensible one. A sad and pathetic indictment on Rangers however.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Trezza17 said:
About the actual match...
Exactly Trezza17. I see our moderator from the dark side has tried to take this thread off topic so we'll get it back on topic. Not surprising that he would try to turn the conversation away from Rangers going top of the league. :thumbsup:

Motherwell were a bit over physical to say the least today. How McDonald stayed on the park while on a yellow after pushing Novo into the advertising boards I'll never know. Bazza did have to go because he reacted. Foran had two bad stamps at him and was lucky to stay on himself. I can understand why Ferguson reacted but I don't think he gave the referee a choice. Quinn tripped Lovenkrands off the ball too which went uncarded and a host of other aggresive tactics by Motherwell went uncautioned too.

That aside we played well enough for the 3 points. The only downside was Malcolm who was rotten. He gave away a needless penalty for the first. His deflection gave the second and if it hadn't have gone in it would have been a penalty plus a red card for him. Then near the end he almost gifted Motherwell an equaliser. Namouchi didn't play well either and Novo was average but the rest of the team played up to the standard we expect.

Good 3 points and top of the league! :)
 

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This f****** team are determined to make us go through hell every week it seems. I could only listen to the match on the radio and I was sure Motherwell were gonna get their equaliser. Really strange match. Even at 3-0 I felt a bit uneasy.

I said in previous posts that Malcolm would play today because he was in possession of the jersey and hadn't done anything wrong. We should at least be thankful that his stupidity didn't cost us any points today. In my view, Zurab should be given his chance now. I found it laughable enough reading comments from McLeish that Bob had never had a bad game for Rangers this morning. It's all very well sticking up for your players, but that's just lies.

By all acounts Fergie deserved to go. I thought the guy was supposed to have grown up a lot? Hopefully Eck has a few harsh words for him, although he's publicly defended him saying, "There is no possibility of him being disciplined because if you get kicked the way he was it's only human nature to retaliate." He'll miss the Dundee United game next week, and he'd better hope we take the three points from that one.

I got the impression that Prso was our best player again, and he seemed to be our only outlet to relieve the pressure in the last 10 minutes. Scored one and created good chances for others.

Kyrgiakos was taken off in the second half and McLeish revealed he's been carrying a "little groin strain" for a few weeks. We certainly can't afford for Soto to miss any games, as he's the only one holding that defence together.

Back to the top of the league, but nothing's won yet. This has got the potential to be even more nerve-wracking than two years ago...:cool:
 
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