There has been a popular notion for some time that Rangers have an edge over Celtic in their striking options.
Chris Sutton was the latest to delve into the subject today. He said on BT Sport that Rangers have an advantage on Celtic up top because they have Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos respectively to score goals (BT Sport 1 coverage of Hamilton vs Rangers, 24/11, pre-match).
“This is where, at the moment, they have the edge on Celtic, because if Celtic get an injury to Edouard, do they have the backup? Rangers have Defoe, who’s a phenomenal finisher. And Morelos is in the form of his life, isn’t he?”
Barry Ferguson also told PLZ Soccer nearly two weeks ago that he also feels Rangers have the edge here. He pointed to the fact that Leigh Griffiths has struggled whilst Vakoun Issouf Bayo is also injured.
Sure, in that specific position it’s plausible. In fact, combined, Morelos and Defoe have managed an impressive 35 goals between them. However, the truth is that it’s not an edge that’s particularly relevant.
Let’s put it into a more appropriate perspective. Overall this season, Rangers have scored 70 goals this season. Fair play to them, but we’ve netted 81. So despite this apparent superiority in options that they have up top, we’re still 11 goals better off.
What about the other danger-men?
Yes it looks great for Rangers when you add up their strikers’ scoring tallies. What’s getting much less press coverage, however, is how the rest of the attacking threats in both sides’ compare.
We’ve proven we’re not overly reliant on one or two players to get the job done.
Down the right side we have James Forrest. He’s done tremendously well with 13 goals and 12 assists. None of their creative players comes close to that. The attacking midfielder who comes closest to Forrest’s goal-contribution for Rangers is Sheyi Ojo. Yet he’s only managed five goals and five assists respectively.
As for Rangers’ big summer-signing Ryan Kent, the truth is he’s flattered to deceive this season. Sure, he bagged two against Hamilton today. It’s about time he showed something for them. Those efforts are the only goals he’s scored in nine games, adding to his one assist.
Our own first-choice left-winger is Mohamed Elyounoussi. In truth, Elyounoussi has been the signing that Rangers fans wished that Kent was going to be. Mo has seven goals and six assists to his name having played only three more games than Kent.
Ryan Christie has also netted 12 goals and bagged nine assists – meaning he’s contributed directly to 21 goals. That’s more than Ryan Jack, Aribo and Arfield combined – pretty much all of Rangers’ first-choice goal-threats from the midfield.
So this idea that Rangers’ superior goal-return from their strikers somehow gives them an attacking edge is a flimsy. It means nothing so long as Celtic’s other threats continue to perform at the rate they have been.
NOTE: All individual stats have been taken from Transfermarkt