On the 14th May 2021, Rangers strolled to a 4-0 victory against forth placed Aberdeen to complete their undefeated league campaign and win their 55th title. At that point it looked as though their relentless attacking football couldn’t be stopped and after a fairly successful transfer window, retaining all of their key players, many would’ve predicted that their ruthless form would continue into the start of the 2021/22 season.
This has not turned out to be the case. Crashing out of the champions league to the ten men of Malmö and a dismal 1-0 defeat to Dundee United has unveiled some hidden vulnerabilities in the current champions squad.
Whether this is due to the pressure of playing in front of an easily frustrated Rangers crowd or not, there does appear to be a nervousness to this side that could not be seen at all throughout last years dominance.
Does this mean we have any chance of doing the unthinkable and snatching three points? Probably not, but we can live in hope.
Enough about that mob, what can expect to see from County this afternoon? Well so far, our performances this season suggest, not a lot.
After two games we sit on one point with zero shots on target having not shown many signs of attacking prowess.
However, our break in fixtures last weekend due to our unfortunate league cup exit at the hands of coronavirus, has allowed Malky Mackay to have a full two weeks training with the squad that will hopefully have had an impact on our style of play.
After a fairly comfortable defensive performance, despite conceding a penalty, that saw us leave the St Johnstone game with a clean sheet, a chaotic 11 minute spell at Easter Road left us three goals behind going into half time.
New signing Harry Clarke came off the bench and looked fairly comfortable against the Hibernian front line so I’d imagine he’ll be trusted to start against the Glaswegian outfit.
Historically we haven’t faired to well against them, winning 0/12 league fixtures, but we have managed to draw with them three times. I imagine most county fans would be happy with a point if offered.
We will almost certainly play a back five again after doing so in the first two games, letting the three centre backs man mark rangers front three. This means that James Tavernier and Borna Barosic will be the ones charging down the lines at our wing backs who will need to remain solid to ensure we don’t get overpowered at the back.
We have made one new signing since our trip to Edinburgh, signing winger, Joseph Hungbo, on a season long loan from Watford.
It will be interesting to see if Malky will put his trust into any of the loan boys for a start in this game having now had a few weeks to assess them in training and let them bed into the squad.
To have any chance in this game County need to keep it tight at the back and put the nervy Rangers players under pressure to hopefully force some mistakes.
Jordan White is almost certain to start up front so will have to work tirelessly to challenge the Rangers backline and be an effective out ball for the Staggies.
Danger Man – Ryan Kent
Kent hasn’t quite hit the ground running yet, this season, but if he is able to find his top form tomorrow then it could be a long 90 minutes for one of our centre backs.
One to Watch – Harry Clarke
As County are likely to spend most of the match defending it’ll be interesting to see if the young loanee from Arsenal will be able to step up to the challenge. The Rangers front three can be ruthless at times and Clarke will need to put in a performance, similar to the likes we’ve seen from Andrew Davies in past games against the old firm side.
It’s not going to be easy and I don’t imagine Rangers fans will be coming up to Dingwall with much worry.
We just have to hope that if we’re at our best and Rangers have an off day then we might just be able to grasp a point or three, much like Dundee United managed a fortnight ago.
Crazier things have happened in football and come on, we’ve got to beat them sometime haven’t we?