First some context. The 2-2 draw flattered Rangers much more than Arsenal. However, everyone needs to realise it was a friendly. Try as you may, it is not possible to get the intensity of a competitive game in these pre-season games. Also, Rangers didn’t have players like Ryan Kent or Joe Aribo while Arsenal were also missing stars like Saka. Despite all this, you have to say that this fighting draw between Rangers and Arsenal favoured Gerrard’s side more when it comes to taking confidence from the result.
Fighting Draw Between Rangers And Arsenal
It was a match Arsenal dominated frankly and should have had a comfortable victory if not for some shoddy finishing. Let’s be honest though, it was emblematic of Arsenal’s problems that despite all that, Rangers took the lead twice.
The biggest positive for Rangers was definitely Calvin Bassey, who was fantastic. It really feels that if Bassey continues at this pace, he could be on course for a fantastic season. Lundstram started strong but then faded like almost everyone around him.
Despite the second-half changes, it’s a good sign that Rangers finished the game without losing. It’s a step in the right direction with the third qualifying rounds of the Champions League fast approaching. It’s around 16-17 days away, and this was a good test for this group of players against a really solid Arsenal side. Also, the first league encounter is 13 days away so the matches between now and the game Vs Livi is crucial.
Blackpool, Brighton and Real Madrid are the opponents between now and next Sunday. Given the quality of these oppositions, I have no doubt Rangers will be well prepared on the opening day of the league and also the Champions League third-round qualifiers.
So, if Morelos is not part of the long term thinking at Rangers given the interest in him, it was great that Itten showed up with that headed (shouldered?) goal. He absolutely dominated that situation in the Arsenal box and a lot of fans want to see him be that no nonsense guy who is the focal point in the attack. The next three games will provide a good roadmap for the fans as to what they can expect, while this is a golden opportunity for the forward as well. Last season was not productive, but Itten had the luxury of settling in with Morelos staying on. This season he needs to fire, no question.
Fans Inside Ibrox
Also a word on the 2000 fans inside the Ibrox today. You were absolutely fantastic. In the telly, the noise definitely felt more than 2k fans, and that’s a credit to those inside. It’s a damn shame there were not more people, but fingers crossed, the numbers dramatically increase between now and the Brighton/Real Madrid game.
Also, I have to be the bearer of some potentially bad news. You remember the article I did on July 3rd (you can read it here) where clubs were given guidance on how to have 100 percent fans inside the stadium from 9th August (the Scottish Government had veto power though on or before 3rd August). I talked with the representatives of a couple of clubs yesterday and today, and they believe it’s not going to happen. Nothing official yet, but they believe it’s coming soon given the preliminary discussions they have had with the SPFL.
Let me finish this column by plugging this podcast The 4th Official did earlier this year with Matt Polster. You can listen to it here. Listening back, it’s no wonder Rangers are where they are right now, and why they should dominate the next couple of seasons.