Steven Harrigan returns with a new series, Five Storylines to Follow.
This blog will be accompanied by a short bite size pod. It will serve in addition to the other fantastic preview shows we have on offer. In future I may choose just to do this for the Europa league matches, or cup games as we already have main preview show in place alongside many other favourites.
All feedback is welcome and if you think this idea is dogmeat, let me know. You tell me, after all it is you who drives the content.
Kilmarnock vs Rangers - Betfred Cup 19th August 2018
Sunday sees Rangers head down the Ayrshire coast for a short trip to take on Kilmarnock in the Bet Fred cup. Following on from Thursday's Europa league match. Below are five key storylines to follow in this match:
Will Sunday see Steven Gerrard adopt a formation change, using the Betfred cup as an opportunity in which to try to test a new shape, possibly a 3-5-2?
Flanagan could easily tuck in to make up the numbers in the centre of defence, alongside Katic and Goldson or even Ryan Jack, who I think is more than capable of playing the sweeper type role, pushing forward to offer an outlet when we have the ball, then dropping back into cover when we do not or are in the transition phases of the match.
Barisic will be fresh and raring to go after being cup tied for Thursday night's clash with Maribor. Personally I know I can't wait to see him in the light blue again, his showing on Sunday was highly impressive both in and attacking and defensive sense. Strong in the tackle, he gave us a physicality we have lacked in recent seasons, all that before talking about his drive and willingness to get forward to the byline, the standard and consistency of the balls he puts across in to dangerous areas, will have the opposition full backs wary of pushing up leaving the kind of room in behind he loves to exploit.
2 - SADIQ
This game should give Sadiq both a much-needed run out, whilst presenting him with a chance to show what he has got and can offer when starting a game.
It can't be easy for the big man coming off the bench, for the final stages of matches, entering the field, with the game in full flow.
I think it's fair to say the jury is well and truly put on the big man, he is raw at best, he sees things only he can at times. A glaring example was when he came into the pitch on Sunday, taking two or three touches when a quick pass was on.
What most alarmed me was the fact he jumps the height of me despite his towering frame. He must learn to use his body more.
Nobody is quite sure what to expect or what we will get from him, I think that is a fair assessment. He is something if a wildcard. Getting a run out for the colts team on Tuesday night, possibility with this game on Sunday in mind.
3 - JORDAN JONES
I know it's about what we do, and how we execute it, but this is a player who is no doubt on Rangers radar, what Jones won't be afforded this term is the kind of space and freedom we seen gifted last season.
Without doubt he is Kilmarnock's most dangerous and key player, as we seen on in the fixtures last term. At a rumoured £1 million price tag I'm I'm intrigued to see how he carries himself against our full backs, either in a back 3 or as wing backs. No longer is Lee Hodson playing in the defence, this could be games most interesting match up, and the most important one.
Nullifying the threat made in the wide areas by Jones will go along way to helping secure progress to the next stage.
4 - REACTION FROM THE GAME
Plenty of energy will have been used on Thursday night, and the gaffer will no doubt use this as chance to freshen things up. Many players may find this is the weekend they get a rest, having played numerous high intensity games so far. Keeping players fresh as possible will prove key going forward.
Fixtures are piling up and many of the players have played successive league matches with 10 men to go alongside the rigours of the European exploits so far. There are 4 games to come in a short space of time before the seasons first old firm encounter at Parkhead.
The amount of changes made is always a difficult balancing act, too many van affect the teams confidence and momentum. The big difference this season is we have a manager and coaching staff we can trust.
5 - PLASTIC PITCHES
This will be Steven Gerrard's first trip to the plastic pitches of Scotland, and not his last with many sides including Livingston and Hamilton having similar surfaces.
They should be banned and outlawed in my view, quite simply they have no place at the top-level of our game.
I don't think any true football fan can be a fan of them, from the bounce of the ball to the heightened risk of injury to players, getting out of Rugby park with no casualties as well as the win, is just as important in these types of games.
BONUS - MANDARIN TOP?
Sunday might just see the first domestic outing for the mandarin kit made by Hummel. It looked great on Thursday night didn't it.
PREDICTION: Kilmarnock 0 - 2 Rangers
As I say please get in touch, leave your feedback score predictions, the lot. It's all welcome.
Steven Harrigan (@steven_harrigan)