Steven Gerrard set to shake up Rangers approach on revenge mission at St Mirren

Andy Newport, PA
·3-min read

Steven Gerrard admits he will have to come up with a new game plan to down St Mirren as Rangers look to avenge their only defeat of the season on Wednesday.

Jim Goodwin’s Buddies managed a feat that has been beyond the likes of Celtic, Benfica and Standard Liege this term as they dumped Gers out of the Betfred Cup.

Gerrard can still feel the sting of that defeat two weeks ago but his team will be given a swift shot at redemption when they head back to Paisley this week.

The Ibrox boss gave fringe men Calvin Bassey, Bongani Zungu and Cedric Itten the chance to impress that night but it backfired as Conor McCarthy’s last-gasp winner sealed Saints’ place in the semi-finals after a 3-2 thriller.

Gerrard admits there will be changes again after seeing Scott Arfield suffer an injury as his team were forced to put in a gruelling second-half shift to keep Hibernian at bay on Saturday.

And the Light Blues manager acknowledged he will also have to take a different tactical approach to the rematch if his team are to avoid another slip-up and maintain their 16-point lead over Celtic heading into next Saturday’s crucial Old Firm clash.

He said: “I’ve got some tough decisions to make in the coming days. That’s a good place to be in.

“Will there be changes for Wednesday? Possibly. Obviously we’ve got the injury to Scott and there were a few tired legs out there on Saturday. I thought there were three or four of us that had a 10-minute period where they looked a bit leggy.

“The pitches are getting a bit heavy now and the games are coming thick and fast, so I will use the squad but there is no time for wholesale changes.

“We do have people to come in so I can’t see the XI being the same for Saturday afternoon.

“We have to go and continue that as St Mirren will be set up and full of confidence because they’ve beat us before, so I maybe need to think about different things to try there and we’ll go from there.”

Rangers were on a 27-game unbeaten run when they came off the tracks against Saints.

But they have wasted little time getting back up to speed and have now responded to that defeat by racking up three successive wins over Motherwell, St Johnstone and Hibs.

“I’ve said it all along, we were not going to be perfect,” said Gerrard. “I don’t think any team always has it perfect in any league and we’re no different.

“We did have a setback against St Mirren and that was a blow.

“But it is all about the reaction and the response from the players and we’ve won three on the spin since then, so I have been pleased with that.”

Saturday’s win over Hibs was sealed by Ianis Hagi’s first-half winner but Leith boss Jack Ross was proud of the way his injury-hit squad pushed the league leaders after the break.

Ross – who was without first-choice keeper Ofir Marciano, suspended striker Christian Doidge, plus Kyle Magennis, Stevie Mallan, Sean Mackie, Jamie Murphy and Scott Allan due to injury – said: “We had seven first-team players unavailable to us and that affected us in the latter stages.

“We couldn’t fill the bench – I think it would have been nice to have that kind of option later in the game because we were starting to dominate territorially.

“We had a number of set-pieces but unfortunately we didn’t have Christian available.

“It’s fine margins. If one or two balls had fallen in the right direction towards the end we would have taken something from the match.”