Missing influencers severely impact Rangers’ performance
There were four notable absentees from Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team sheet at Ibrox, all of them proven match winners for Rangers in recent times.
Romanian playmaker Ianis Hagi won’t be seen again this season, while striking talisman Alfredo Morelos will miss the next two games against Ross County and Celtic while on international duty with Colombia.
Nigerian midfielder Joe Aribo, back in Glasgow too late from the Africa Cup of Nations finals, and suspended winger Ryan Kent should both return for Saturday’s trip to Dingwall.
Without that quartet, it was perhaps no surprise that the levels of creativity and dynamism in Rangers’ play were diminished for long spells against Livingston.
Lowry paints a pretty picture in midfield
While some of those drafted into the starting line-up, most notably Scott Wright and Cedric Itten, failed to make the kind of contribution Rangers were looking for in the absence of so many of their key men, Alex Lowry rose to the challenge in style.
The greatest compliment that can be paid to the 18-year-old is that he looks eminently capable of filling the playmaking void in the ‘number 10’ role left by the season-ending injury suffered by Hagi.
Just as when making his first team debut as a substitute for Hagi in the Scottish Cup win over Stirling Albion, Lowry was the most accomplished performer in the Rangers side.
His assurance in possession, eye for a pass and top-notch technique earned the acclaim of the home fans in the 48,343 crowd.
Arfield more than worthy of a new deal
In the final analysis of a title race that looks increasingly likely to go the distance, who knows how vital Scott Arfield’s 75th minute winner on Wednesday night might prove to be?
The 33-year-old, missing since the winter break because of injury, brings energy, intelligence and forward runs from midfield which can deliver game-changing moments like his flick over goalkeeper Max Stryjek.
It was Arfield’s 32nd goal in 165 appearances for Rangers since he joined them in the summer of 2018 and he surely merits the opportunity to extend his stay at the club.