Rangers might have made it to the Europa League group stage and qualified for a European competition after a gap of 8 years, but their league form has been below par as they have won just one encounter from their first four games. The result could have been very different had they not conceded the two late equalising goals in the dying moments of the game against Aberdeen and Motherwell.
The team has looked defensively solid so far which was the Achilles heel last season, but the game against Celtic showcased that there is still some gulf remaining between the two Glasgow giants. The major difference was in midfield as the likes of Ryan Jack, Ovie Ejaria and Scott Arfield were entirely overpowered by the duo of Olivier Ntcham and Scott Brown. Yes, the Gers have had some tough Europa League encounters but these are professional players, and the fans would expect a competitive performance from them every time they take the field.
Rangers’ slight decline in form has coincided with Lassana Coulibaly’s injury who has been out for close to two weeks now. The 22-year-old Malian international was impressive in the five games he had played so far, looking very much like he would be the mainstay of the Gers midfield.
Coulibaly happens to be one of 15 signings which Gerrard has made in this transfer window. However, he is just on a season-long loan, and from the pieces of evidence which we have seen so far, Gerrard should try to make it a permanent one in the next summer.
The Malian could be the Gers answer to Olivier Ntcham as he has similar facets to his game which the French midfielder has. He still needs to go a long way before he can be compared to Ntcham in terms of performance but the signs are there. The game where he started, the 22-year old ran the show. The midfielder was setting up attacks, nicking balls from the opponents and controlling the tempo of the game. His strength on the ball was one of his standout features, and the Gers would think what could have been if he was available in the derby.
Nevertheless, it’s a long season, and Coulibaly will come into action soon. The international break probably happened just at the right time as most of the players would get a two-week rest after they have been playing two games a week since the beginning of the campaign.
We believe, Coulibaly could partner Ejaria or Jack in midfield in the upcoming games and Gerrard would hope that the midfield two can put in defining performances. The midfield looked timid in the Old Firm derby, and the presence of Coulibaly should provide some spine in the middle. He would be expected to hustle up opponents and turn the ball into attack swiftly whenever he wins the ball. Hopefully, from the Gers point of view, they can kickstart their league campaign after the international break which should coincide with Coulibaly’s return to fitness.