Joe Aribo heeded Steven Gerrard’s words, but it still wasn’t enough for Rangers

The Light Blues’ boss wanted a better showing from his side against Motherwell and the Nigerian delivered.

Joe Aribo (Rangers)

Rangers’ 2-0 defeat by Olympique Lyon last Thursday was certainly disappointing, particularly for Steven Gerrard. The Gers boss was dissatisfied with his team’s showing in that defeat in which they failed to lay a glove on their Ligue 1 visitors and thoroughly deserved to end on the losing side.

Joe Aribo featured in the loss, playing further forward in a front three but he was replaced with 15 minutes remaining after a rather underwhelming outing at Ibrox.

Gerrard’s post-match assessment focused on his team picking themselves up and showing something different in Sunday’s encounter with Motherwell.

“We always strive for belief and killer instinct, especially at a club like Rangers, but you’ve also got to take into consideration the level of player and team that you are up against,” the coach said.

“Lyon aren’t going to let us play our game, we’re playing against top teams and players. For us to get to the next stage, we need to be better in the final third – that’s the reality from our outlook last night.

“We’ve got more than enough tools in our armoury to score goals and get success. “[Peter Bosz] is someone that I’ve got huge respect for. We’ve played against two of his teams and I felt on the side [against Leverkusen] there was a big gulf in class.

“I felt last night we took huge strides. I think at times looked like a good team; I did feel like we were competitive. I do see Lyon on a similar level with Leverkusen, two Champions League teams who have progressed to the latter stages of the campaign in the last few years.

“I didn’t feel the same this morning as I did after the Leverkusen game, so to me that is progress but at the end of the day, we’re at Rangers we need to react and bounce back for the weekend.

“The Motherwell game will be here quickly. The games are thick and fast, I think that’s three games in six days, there’s no time to dwell, we need to move on fast.

“The fans deserve that moment of flag day; it is a moment for them all together. We respect this of course but for me, it is all about the three points at the weekend.”

As it turned out, Rangers could only pick up a 1-1 draw with Motherwell at Ibrox. While the overall performance was significantly improved, the Light Blues couldn’t add to their early first-half lead and they were eventually pegged back by Kaiyne Woolery’s leveller six minutes after the hour mark.

Nevertheless, Aribo’s showing on the day was truly special and he deserved to end on the winning side after flourishing for 90 minutes. The Nigerian created six chances in the encounter, with two classified as big chances, and set up the opener for Fashion Sakala after 12 minutes.

He also completed every attempted dribble on the day and won a respectable eight of 12 duels during the match.

Aribo may have thrived on his return to a deeper role, but his manager was frustrated by a perceived weakness in mentality and believes they must learn to kill games off and also defend better.

“At times we were vulnerable today and at 1-0 you always leave yourself wide open to drop two points,” said Gerrard.

“We scored one good goal, but for me, that was a 3-0 or 4-0 game if we go and reward ourselves for all our good play.

“We have got to defend situations better. We got a lot of praise last year for clean sheets and being tough to play against, but their goal has come from us being a little bit flaky. We could have got out wide quicker, we could have dealt with that situation

“It is important that we learn from today. At 1-0, we have got to go and take our chances, we need people to step up in the final third and be more creative. We need people to take our chances because if that went to 2-0 today, I could see more goals on the back of that. At 1-0, I never really felt comfortable, so we need to look at that.”

Rangers’ next game is a League Cup tie on home turf against Livingston before they travel to Dundee FC looking to return to winning ways.

Aribo heeded his manager’s words, now he’ll strive for consistency as Rangers look to find their way again after this recent wobble.

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Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.

Follow him on Twitter @theReal_SeyE

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