Rangers cruised to a 5-0 win over Queen of the South to set themselves up nicely for Sunday’s showdown at Pittodrie.
Martyn Waghorn showed some lethal finishing to hit a hat-trick after Jason Holt and Andy Halliday had opened the scoring.
Here’s some things we learned from the game:
Martyn Waghorn has been missed
While there remain doubts over Martyn Waghorn’s ability to play in the central role in tricky away games, and to display the full repetoire of a lone striker, his finishing was excellent here as he looked more of a penalty-box player to stick a hat-trick past a hitherto robust Queen of the South defence.
With Joe Garner not having impressed so far, it’s probably that he’ll start in the centre at Pittodrie on Sunday - a fit Waghorn playing simply means we score more goals.
Barrie McKay could be back
McKay has shown some mediocre form of late, but he was pretty spectacular in his outing here, showing his outstanding passing and first touch as usual but getting into the game excellently. That performance has probably saved him his spot on the left-wing against Aberdeen, and if he can replicate the same level of productivity, we should have few problems.
Is this our best centre-back pairing?
Clint Hill appears to have settled down somewhat, and while the overall team shape still proved susceptible to counter-attacks, you simply can’t play Walterball and have your fullbacks score 10 or 15 a season. The defence looked pretty confident throughout, Danny Wilson was excellent again, and even Hill looked decent. The pair should be the most likely to start on Sunday.
Should Lee Wallace be dropped now we have an alternative?
Lee Hodson’s game wasn’t spectacular - it was solid and efficient, although he was perhaps unlucky not to score an excellent goal - but that’s more than can be said for Wallace lately. Hodson hasn’t played much football, hasn’t been tested, and Wallace is the skipper, so it would an unrealistically big call to drop the latter, but it could happen at some point if he fails to improve. If things do get too bad, we know we have a perfectly viable alternative.
Andy Halliday was good, but still never a defensive midfielder
As good as Halliday often is at pressing and winning the ball back high up the pitch, he is not a holding midfielder at all, and every time he is asked to be so, usually leaves the defence totally exposed. Whether he simply has mindblowingly bad positional sense or he stays in these places at the request of Mr Warburton cannot be known, but despite an otherwise excellent game, it would still be a worry to deploy the same (original, pre-Windass injury) midfield three at Pittodrie.