After an exciting month of January business so far, Rangers fans were handed their first competitive glimpse of both Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe last night.
The postponed match against Cowdenbeath last Friday meant that Steven Gerrard’s side were charged with shaking off the cobwebs and getting a result in a crunch title clash against Kilmarnock.
To get both Defoe and top scorer Alfredo Morelos into the same side, Gerrard deployed a narrow 4-4-2 diamond system in midfield, with Ryan Kent as a number 10.
And although Defoe got his now customary debut goal, he was quiet for much of the night as Kilmarnock came from behind to win 2-1 and put a major dent in Rangers’ title hopes.
Rangers dominated possession but Killie were always able to put the squeeze on them because there was no out ball on the wings.
The full-backs were forced to push up to offer the width, but that left Gareth McAuley and Joe Worrall exposed two against two at times; the Northern Irishman got booked for a foul in a wide area against Jordan Jones, which meant he couldn’t touch him when he burst forward to net the second half winner.
The likes of Davis, Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield were not able to show their quality in such a confined space and there was no steady service for Morelos and Defoe to feed on.
A more conventional 4-4-2 might have Gerrard play Defoe and Morelos, as well as keeping the width, because the narrow midfield system was a failed experiment.