Steven Gerrard praises Rangers players for 'putting their bodies on the line' to rack up remarkable clean sheet record

For any defence to keep 18 clean sheets in 22 Premiership matches, a high level of coaching and tactical discipline is required.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard congratulates defender Connor Goldson at the end of the 1-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on the opening day of the season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard congratulates defender Connor Goldson at the end of the 1-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on the opening day of the season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

But while Steven Gerrard and his backroom staff undoubtedly deserve plaudits for their roles in the remarkable numbers posted by their goalkeepers and back four combinations so far this season, the Rangers manager believes the sheer physical courage of his players is just as significant.

"I have got to give them immense credit for putting their bodies on the line and the application they put into their training and preparation,” said Gerrard.

“I think having the players for a few seasons now certainly helps in terms of getting them used to our organisation and how we want to play, in what we demand of them out of possession in terms of the speed of covering the grass.

“Everyone is well drilled and everyone knows what they need to do in their role within that. It helps having two top-class goalkeepers (Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin) to choose from behind that defensive structure and I think everyone has really bought into what we need to do when we turn the ball over or are not in possession.

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“That has basically been the base for us to go and attack well from as well. They are related in terms of our identity and so far, so good.

“We had that off night when we lost 3-2 and went out of the League Cup at St Mirren, which was a bit of a blow to us.

“But sometimes you need a setback or a wobble to reset and I think we have done since that point. We need to continue from that.”

Rangers face Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday afternoon seeking a 15th consecutive victory in the Premiership which would see them stretch their lead over Celtic at the top of the table to 22 points before the reigning champions take on Hibs on Monday night.

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It’s a return to the venue where the season started for Gerrard’s squad with a 1-0 victory in an environment he admits is far less intense behind closed doors.

"It was a challenge for us to go up there for the first away game of the season, up against a good coach who has his team well-drilled.

“The rivalry goes without saying but it was different going up to Pittodrie. It was a lot calmer in terms of the atmosphere. To play in an empty stadium is different. It's still going to be a tough game but we're looking forward to the challenge at the weekend.

“Aberdeen will have players back, they are in a decent period of form themselves, so it should be a fantastic match for everyone on the outside.

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“But, for me, the challenge is to go up there and try and get the three points and try and find the best performance from a Rangers point of view.”

Gerrard does not anticipate making any new additions to his squad during the January transfer window.

"We are linked with a lot of players, which is normal for Rangers, but I wouldn't read too much into that,” he said. “People are just throwing names at us and I'll be very surprised if we add any to it in the coming weeks.”

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