Emirates Cup – Arsenal v Rangers – Sunday

This year Rangers stole back the Scottish League title from Celtic on the last day of the season.  Many Premiership fans will recognise the regulars in the Rangers side from the 2008-09 season which saw Rangers restore pride to the blue side of Glasgow.  David Weir, Steven Davis, Pedro Mendes, Madjid Bougherra and Kenny Miller all player major roles for Rangers last season.  Each player has played in England over the last few years and many are recent recruits.  It shows that Rangers really felt the need to bring in new players if they wanted to stop Celtic’s run of success.

Kris Boyd got 27 goals in 33 games last season which is a fantastic return in any league.  Boyd was involved in major controversy last season while on International duty but threats that he would never wear the Rangers shirt again seem to have passed.  Boyd provides Rangers’ main threat but he is very easily put off his game.  In the Scottish Cup Final last season Boyd was taken off at half time because he was simply not in the game.  It is rare that a manager will take off a goal scorer with such a good record and this indicates that Kris Boyd on his day is lethal, but Boyd off his day is a passenger.

Barry Ferguson was part of the same controversy and he has actually moved on to Birmingham.  This may weaken the Gers until they can find a good replacement.  No Scottish team would be complete without some combative midfielders in their ranks and Kevin Thompson is exactly that type of player.  His reputation has increased over the last two years and he is thought to be in line to he Rangers captain during the 2009-10 season.  Despite his importance to the team, it seems he will miss the Emirates Cup due to injury.  Steven Davis will be given the job of breaking up the attacking momentum of other teams and he has taken his development at Fulham and progressed nicely.  He was a regular for the much improved Northern Irish team and will be a good player in the years to come.

On the wing DaMarcus Beasley is a useful player; he has good pace, dribbling ability and a decent cross from wide positions.  He is able to provide the service for Kris Boyd as well as chip in with goals himself.  Lee McCulloch will be remembered well by many an English football fan after his stint at Wigan where he did well in Wigan’s fairytale opening season in the Premier League.  He is often chosen ahead of Beasley as the American is often used as an impact player.  Kyle Lafferty is a player that can do the same from the opposite wing and these wide players give Rangers a very traditional British feel to their side.

At the back, David Weir rolled back the years to play the most amount of games out of the Rangers squad last season.  Many will remember Weir from his days at Everton a few years back but he is again making a name for himself back in his home country.  Alongside Sasa Papac and Bougherra, Weir and Rangers only conceded 28 goals in 38 League games last season which is hugely impressive and this suggests they will be tough to break down, providing a good test for Arsenal’s forward players on the last day of the Emirates Cup.  Just like in the very first Emirates Cup, Arsenal may need a win in the last game to win the competition and Rangers may be able to frustrate Arsenal if their defence can produce similar performances.

Rangers will probably line up as follows

=============McGregor===========

Whittaker===Bougherra===Weir===Papac

McCulloch===Davis===Mendes===Lafferty

==========Boyd=====Miller=========

Rangers lie with four points from their one nil victory over Paris st Germain, so this match takes on extra special appeal as it will decide the eventual winners of the 2009 Emirates trophy. Arsenal’s two -one win over Athletico Madrid leaves them ahead of the table with 5 points. A point is given for every goal scored so a draw will win the cup for the Gunners.

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