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Aribo and Bassey inspire the Rangers to extend the streak of the undefeated Premiership

Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey inspired the Rangers to expand their undefeated Premiership streak to 17 games after beating Dundee United 1-0 on Saturday. (Author: Gardener)

PremiershipJoe Aribo and Calvin Bassey inspired the Rangers to expand their undefeated Premiership streak to 17 games after beating Dundee United 1-0 on Saturday. The Super Eagles midfielder failed to expand his record of six assists and two assists in 19 league games this season, but his presence strengthened her dominance in midfield. Bassey was also a strong force in the Gers defense as the injured Leon Balogun was absent as he helped them maintain their fifth straight conceded goal in the league. The versatile defender has played 13 Premiership games for the Ibrox Stadium team this season. While the Nigerian duo had a few minutes of play, Zambia's striker Fashion Sakala was substituted on for Giovanni van Bronckhorst's team. Saturday's win at Ibrox Stadium was in retaliation for Dundee United, who saw the Rangers their first and only league loss of the season this season since August 7. The Gers lead the table with 48 points after 19 games, seven points ahead of second-placed Celtic. Bassey received his first invitation to the Super Eagles in September and was an unused substitute in their World Cup qualifiers against the Central African Republic in October. The 21-year-old is fighting with Aribo for a place in the Nigerian squad for the Africa Cup in Cameroon in 2021. However, Rangers boss Van Bronckhorst is not ready to release his key players ahead of the Old Firm derby against Celtic in January 2. It was clear to me that we would release them if necessary after the Old Firm game, ”said the Dutch coach.

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James Tavernier penalty extends Scottish Premiership champions lead

Match report when Rangers beat Covid hit Dundee United 1-0 at Ibrox; James Tavernier's penalty in the second half makes the difference between the two teams; the champion extends his lead over Celtic in the Scottish Premiership classification to seven points (Author: Gardener)

ScottishJames Tavernier's penalty in the second half saw the Rangers knock out Covid-hit Dundee United 1-0 to extend their lead over Celtic to seven points in the Scottish Premiership standings. After a Covid outbreak in the middle of the week, the guests were missing up to six regular players from the first team, but were still able to frustrate the champions until they conceded a penalty for handball 19 minutes before the end. Tavernier stepped up to shoot the winner from the spot and although Nicky Clark hit the crossbar at the end of the game in stoppage time, Giovanni van Bronckhorst's team held out ahead of Celtic in the championship race, albeit with one game more than their city rivals. Visitors arrived in Glasgow mid-week with resources severely depleted following a Covid outbreak, which meant Tam Courts had to make six changes to the team that had lost to Livingston at home last time, including starts for the teenage Duo Archie Meekison and debutant Craig Moore. Over the course of the first trimester, the sluggish rangers gradually grew into the fight. Alfredo Morelos almost put them in the lead just before the break, except that substitute goalkeeper Trevor Carson got a tap on the Colombian's header at close range. Tavernier made no mistake and hammered the resulting penalty home, although United nearly spoiled the afternoon in the late afternoon when Clark took advantage of some sloppy Rangers to see a header from a flat throw against the top of the bar while the previously unemployed Allan McGregor was beaten. Rangers hosts St. Mirren in the Scottish Premiership on Boxing Day; Kick-off at 3 p.m. Dundee Utd receives Hibernian on the same day and at the same time.

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Van Bronckhorst changes after just SIX minutes while Ibrox strives for victory

With their least impressive performance to date under his leadership, the Rangers secured a victory perhaps as significant as any other Giovanni van Bronckhorst has overseen since he took office last month. (Author: Gardener)

Van BronckhorstWith their least impressive performance to date under his leadership, the Rangers secured a victory perhaps as significant as any other Giovanni van Bronckhorst has overseen since he took office last month. © Rangers captain James Tavernier scores the only goal of the game against Dundee United at Ibrox with ... James Tavernier's 71st-minute penalty was enough to six out of six league wins for van Bronckhorst and extended the lead over Celtic at the top of the Premiership -Table on seven points. With four teenagers in the starting XI including debutant Craig Moore, 16, United produced a feat of courage, determination and tactical awareness that did them and Courts great credit. Even after falling behind, they continued to cause the Rangers a lot of trouble and almost saved a draw when 18-year-old Darren Watson hit the bar in added time. © Darren Watson is on the verge of a dramatic late equalizer for Dundee United with this header at Ibrox ... It was an afternoon van Bronckhorst would have been relieved if the Rangers' title defense was not damaged. The Rangers started with Nathan Patterson as right-back, captain Tavernier switched inside to partner Connor Goldson in central defense, while Calvin Bassey switched to left-back. It went on for a full six minutes as a brilliant start from United caused all sorts of complaints from the hosts. Van Bronckhorst didn't stay around and ordered a reshuffle, with Tavernier returning to his more natural surroundings as a right-back and Patterson switching to the opposite flank when Bassey switched back inside to join Goldson. The first half was a real torture for the Rangers, whose only shot on goal came in the 45th minute when Trevor Carson made a beautiful save to hit an Alfredo Morelos header from close range. Van Bronckhorst switched at halftime, replacing John Lundstram with Scott Wright, which also resulted in Ianis Hagi being used in a more central position. It brought an improvement and a greater risk of attack to the Rangers game and Carson was called into action again when he made another wise stop to take down the feisty Wright. Joe Aribo, who was kicked out of the starting XI because he was suspended from a suspension that would have kicked him out in the Old Firm game at Celtic Park on January 2, then entered the fight. The United defender reached out to block a Tavernier cross, leaving referee Alan Muir an easy decision. Aribo should have sealed it for the Rangers in stoppage time, but his shot was deflected wide. It dumped the nervous hosts and was lucky enough not to concede a goal in stoppage time when Watson's header hit the top of the crossbar.

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Bills in the Rangers' wrongful indictment hit nearly £ 40 million

The Scottish Government accounts showed the legal costs reached £ 39.9 million. (Author: Gardener)

RangersThe cost of litigation related to the rangers' wrongful indictment scandal has run to nearly £ 40million, according to Scottish government accounts. After several people who were involved in the management and acquisition of the football club were wrongly prosecuted, millions in damages were paid. Administrators David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were arrested in 2014, although the Crown Office later dropped the charges and admitted that their charges were "malicious". The Lord Advocate also admitted that Charles Green and Imran Ahmad should never have been prosecuted, with Mr Green receiving more than £ 6 million in damages plus legal fees. The Scottish Government's consolidated financial statements, released earlier this week, put the total cost of £ 39.9 million. The cost item is described as “involvement in civil litigation against the Lord Advocate by individuals prosecuted in connection with the acquisition and administration of Rangers Football Club”. The Scottish Government has promised to investigate the wrongdoing once the pending legal proceedings are closed. The Daily Record reported the latest cost on Saturday, saying previous estimates were £ 35 million. “The SNP government must be open and honest about how many millions of pounds have been lost from public funds. "Although ministers have agreed to our calls for a public inquiry, they cannot use this as an excuse to keep people in the dark in the meantime while the legal spiral continues." Jane Barlow / PA) (PA Archives) A ​​Crown Office spokesman said, "The former Lord Advocate has committed the Crown to support a judge-led investigation once all the litigation is closed and apologized for the public expense. A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The entry in the Scottish Government accounts reflects the total costs incurred in connection with the civil litigation relating to certain individuals related to Rangers FC. “The costs incurred in these cases were not covered by the COPFS (Crown Office) resource allocation. "The general budget is administered by the Scottish Government and, as every year, any total changes in funding required to support the expenditure will be confirmed through budgetary revisions and shown in the Scottish Government accounts in due course."

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3 talking points as the Rangers push past Covid hit Dundee United thanks to the James Tavernier penalty

Giovanni van Bronckhorst continued his unbeaten start as Ibrox boss, but his team had to work for it. (Author: Gardener)

RangersCovid-struck Dundee United felt sick when Scott McMann's handball allowed the Rangers to play an eighth game without defeat under Gio van Bronckhorst. Terror boss Tam Courts was forced to defend his team this week after a team night in Newcastle ended with an outbreak in his squad. They weren't reversed until McMann's costly decision to throw an arm on a James Tavernier cross left referee Alan Muir no choice but to point the way. With 19 minutes to go, the Rangers skipper managed to keep his team in the lead under their new Dutch boss - and increased their lead at the top of the table to seven points. Dundee United - the only Scottish team to have beaten Gers this season - slide to fifth after their fourth straight defeat. That meant Declan Glass, Chris Mochrie, Darren Watson, Archie Meekison, and 16-year-old debutant Craig Moore all got a chance to shine. The big team news in the ranks of the Gers saw Tavernier and right-back Nathan Patterson together for the first time at the start. Patterson was transferred to a left-back to replace Borna Barisic, who was eliminated due to illness in Wednesday's win against St. Johnstone. John Lundstram also replaced the rested Joe Aribo, who could not compete in the league for the first time this season. The changes in United's line-up didn't make it any easier to break down, especially as Gers missed the fresh spark and fast pace they'd shown in van Bronckhorst's opening month. Tavernier - who appeared to be playing as the center-back briefly before returning to his usual slot - was caught when Court's team countered, but Nicky Clark's shot went straight at Allan McGregor. James Tavernier celebrates with his Rangers teammates after scoring against Dundee United. He got to the heart of his youth colleague Mochrie, but Lundstram got an important block. Lundstram saw a shot deflected far before Tavernier dashed around a corner. It was not until a minute before the break for the Master to test Trevor Carson in the Gate of Terror. It was a lead-footed first period for the Rangers so van Bronckhorst made a change during the break, trading Lundstram for Scott Wright to up the temperature against United. But what Gers really screamed for was Aribo's invention and van Bronckhorst realized he couldn't wait any longer when he introduced the playmaker 25 minutes before the end. Wright saw an attempt by Carson stall before a long delay while United schoolboy Moore lay on the stretcher, adding even more frustration to the Ibrox setup. But those fragile nerves were calmed with 19 minutes left when McMann's insane decision to throw an arm at Tavernier's cross gave the Rangers the breakthrough. James Tavernier scores 1-0 for Rangers against Dundee United from the penalty spot Morelos thought he would have scored the fourth game in a row but was denied by an offside flag from Gers' runner-up as he had started his run a fraction on a Tavernier free kick early. Muir was the man who enabled Celtic to take a late win in Ross County mid-week when he played seven minutes of stoppage time. There were some concerns among home fans when he signaled there would be five extra minutes of play this time around, but Gers breathed a sigh of relief when Watson's late looping header hit McGregor's crossbar before bouncing out. The Rangers boss was busy on the sidelines making the fine-tuning his team needed to take the points. First he started with Nathan Patterson as right-back and Calvin Bassey on the opposite side. But that only lasted four minutes before Patterson switched left, while Tavernier's short run in an unfamiliar center-back role was quickly reconsidered when Bassey returned to mid-defense. John Lundstram was given the central role in midfield, while Glen Kamara started next to Scott Arfield. Lundstram then made way during the break when Scott Wright came on to give Gers much-needed energy in the final third. It was a bit of a mess, but van Bronckhorst doesn't care how his team got the three points, just that they've kept their impressive run since taking over the rumble. The Rangers playmaker has been on fiery form lately, but the decision to pause Aribo has removed much of Gers' threat. It paid off when Gers survived to take the win, but don't expect him to be back on the bench anytime soon. Dundee United manager Tam Courts watches from the sidelines as his side takes the Rangers fair play on Tam Courts and his Tannadice youngsters. The United boss had a week of nightmare when the club was forced to close its training base in St. Andrews following a Covid outbreak. With a number of first-team stars locked in their bedrooms, Courts had to turn to the Academy trainees he was in charge of last year. They may have left Ibrox empty-handed, but Glass, Mochrie, Watson, Meekison and 16-year-old Moore can all hold their heads high after showing a mature performance against the champions.

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Marchessault lifts Golden Knights past Rangers, 3-2 in SO

Jonathan Marchessault scored in the third round of the shootout and the Vegas Golden Knights beat New York Rangers 3-2 on Friday night for their fourth straight win of the season. Brett Howden scored one goal and one assist, and Dylan Coghlan also typically scored when Vegas won for the seventh time in eight games. Laurent Brossoit had 27 saves. (Author: Gardener)

Golden KnightsNEW YORK (AP) - Jonathan Marchessault scored a goal in the third round of the shootout and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 on Friday evening for their fourth win of the season in a row. Brett Howden scored one goal and one assist, and Dylan Coghlan also typically scored when Vegas won for the seventh time in eight games. "I like the resilience of the group," said Peter DeBoer, Golden Knights coach. You have to win in different ways. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each scored a goal and an assist in the second period for the Rangers, who lost for the fourth time in six games after a winning streak of seven games. Alexander Georgiev, who made his sixth start in place of the injured starting goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin, stopped 28 shots. After Nicolas Roy and Evgenii Dadonov from Vegas and Kaapo Kakko and Zibanejad from New York were stopped in the first two rounds of the shootout, Marchessault prevailed for the Golden Knights. Brossoit then denied Ryan Strome to keep the win. Both teams had chances in 3v3 overtime, but Brossoit got all seven shots from the Rangers and Georgiev got all four from Vegas. The Golden Knights managed just four shots on goal in the second period, and the teams played close together for most of the third period, combing just three shots on goal in the first 14 minutes - two from Vegas. DeBoer admitted that fatigue could have been a factor when the Golden Knights played their third street game in four nights. "The second of a straight and three in four nights for us, I think I've seen a bit of that," he said. You have to honor them, Zibanejad's line made a jump, especially in the second third. After a faceoff in the offensive zone, the puck came to Coghlan, who shot a shot from above in the right circle past a shielded Georgiev. The Rangers had eleven shots on goal in the second and only two shots on goal in the third. "The first 15 minutes (of the game) weren't great, but after that we played really good hockey for the rest of the game," said coach Gerard Gallant. “(The third section) wasn't as good as the second, but they didn't get much either. It was one of those phases when there wasn't much going on. ”The Rangers were 1-0 down after 20 minutes, but gained in intensity in the second. Zibanejad leveled 17 seconds when he got a pass from Kreider on the left in the neutral zone, brought the puck over the blue line and fired a shot from beyond the left circle that went through the legs of Brossoit on his seventh. Kreider scored on his 11th. Zibanejad sent a pass from the left with the puck that went between the skates of two Vegas defenders to Kreider on the right doorstep, and he quickly directed it to Brossoit on his 18th of the season at 9 : 35 left. Howden, who faced the Rangers for the first time since an offseason trade to Vegas, brought the Golden Knights into play on the scoreboard 6:49. William Carrier sent Howden a pass in the direction of the network, and his first attempt was stopped by Georgiev. "It was a pretty fun night," said Howden. I'm really glad we got the win. ”Kreider reached his 195th career goal and placed Don Maloney in 12th place on the franchise list. Rangers C Greg McKegg appeared in his 200th game. Howden was in his 199th career game and D Brayden McNabb was in his 299th game with Vegas. LW Artemi Panarin was also out after dropping out in the second half of victory in Arizona on Wednesday night. Gallant and Rangers forward Ryan Reaves faced their former team for the first time. Gallant was the original coach of the Golden Knights when the franchise joined the league in 2017 until he was replaced by Peter DeBoer on January 15, 2020. Reaves, who was overtaken by Vegas in an off-season, had 18 goals and 24 assists in portions of four seasons with the Golden Knights. Howden had 16 goals and 33 assists in three seasons with the Rangers. Golden Knights: At the New York Islanders on Sunday to end a four game journey. Rangers: Host Montreal Wednesday night in the middle game of an 11-day three-game homestand game.

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Tavernier penalty brings Gers seven faultless at the top

The Rangers had to work for a 1-0 win over Dundee on Saturday afternoon, with James Tavernier conceding a win penalty for the hosts 19 minutes from time at the Ibrox. (Author: Gardener)

sevenCaptain James Tavernier's penalty in the second half saved the Rangers in the Premier League battle against the weakened Dundee United in a misty Ibrox when they won 1-0. The breakthrough came when United defender Scott McMann stopped a cross in his own penalty area with his hand in the 71st minute and Tavernier shot a penalty for a welcome 1-0 victory. The leaders are seven points ahead of Celtic, who will face Hibernian in Sunday's Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden Park, despite Old Firm's rivals now having a game in hand. The home side have gone unbeaten in seven games since Giovanni Van Bronckhorst took office and the performance was perhaps the worst of his tenure, although the omens looked favorable for him. Gers midfielder Joe Aribo, one yellow card away from missing the Old Firm game against Celtic on January 2, sat on the bench with center-back, left-back Borna Barisic and Calvin Bassey moved to left-back. It was United who threatened first in the fourth minute when ex-Gers striker Nicky Clark tested keeper Allan McGregor with a low drive from the edge of the box before Bassey's Chris Mochrie blocked an attempt for a corner that went nowhere went. Meanwhile, Tavernier was right-back again, Patterson left-back and Bassey back in the middle, but the home side couldn't find a rhythm. United's substitute keeper Trevor Carson had to take a long shot from Tavernier in the 15th minute before Gers striker Alfredo Morelos shot wide. Just before half-time, Patterson's cross met Morelos from the left, but Carson tipped his header over the bar and a wasted corner was the last action of half. Striker Scott Wright replaced Lundstram at half-time but there was no immediate improvement despite Morelos firing a shot over the bar from 14 yards in the 50th minute. Aribo replaced Scott Arfield in the 64th minute and shortly before that, Wright shot Carson directly from seven yards. Seconds later, McMann illegally blocked Tavernier's cross into the danger area and referee Alan Muir pointed to the point. The Gers skipper slammed the penalty past Carson and the Rangers supporters cheered as relieved as they were with joy. United went out of their way to level the game and 18-year-old striker Darren Watson headed the bar and past the bar in five minutes of stoppage time, but on a day when the performance was poor, Tavernier's goal could be decisive its the title race.

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Rangers defeat Covid hit Dundee United

Rangers extend their lead at the Scottish Premiership Summit with their eighth straight league win after beating a Covid-struck Dundee United. (Author: Gardener)

DundeeThe Rangers extended their lead at the Scottish Premiership Summit with their eighth straight league win after beating a Covid-struck Dundee United. The result extends the Rangers' lead to seven points, but the Celtic League Cup finalist has a game in hand. However, it was an enormously impressive performance by the men of Thomas Courts, who lacked a whole eleven of the first-team regulars - including Benjamin Siegrist, Jeando Fuchs, Ian Harkes, Peter Pawlett, Ilmari Niskanen and Marc McNulty - Reise. But Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side showed mastery marks and found a way to win to ensure that the Dutchman's victorious start in the league continues. Traveling to Ibrox to have a full squad would still have been a daunting task for United, given the form they have been through and the fact that Rangers have been unbeaten at home in the league since March 2020. But with four teenagers in an exhausted XI starting XI, getting a positive result was almost insurmountable for Courts when Alan Muir whistled the first whistle. But it wasn't just United's line-up that featured eye-catching team news, with Rangers right-back Tavernier and Nathan Patterson making their first appearance together. The Rangers showed fleeting signs in the first half that they were putting the car into gear. Alfredo Morelos pulled a finish out of bounds, forcing Trevor Carson to tip a header over either side of the efforts of Glen Kamara, John Lundstram and Tavernier. Scott Wright's half-time lead for Lundstram gave the hosts more attacking power as the Rangers turned the screw. Morelos trained on the turn before a decent game in the box between the Colombian and Wright resulted in ex-Aberdeen man forcing Carson to a fine stop. Then came the penalty as Scott McMann's clear handball allowed Captain Tavernier to step up and send Carson to the right. The Rangers missed opportunities to settle for the game and left the door open for a spirited United who terrified their hosts when teenage Darren Watson stepped off the bar in added time after the hosts' weak defense. But Van Bronckhorst's men survived the horror to keep the momentum going while they got Celtic hot. When the teams were announced, it would be expected to be a demoralizing day for United. A fourth defeat in a row will of course hurt, but Courts can be very proud of their young team, who can measure up to the leaders. The United boss has a chance high on his agenda for youth, and such appearances will encourage him to throw it back in. Van Bronckhorst wasn't tinkering when he hooked Lundstram during the break. Wright's introduction was the catalyst for improved performance in the second half and that is something the Dutchman has to acknowledge. The Ibrox side's last league defeat, a 1-0 defeat at Tannadice in August, was a long time ago and was followed by 17 Premiership games. When leagues are won, games like this are considered to be the ones that drove teams over the line. Dundee United head coach Thomas Courts: "The performance and the result can be dramatic at places like this, but they [young players] have been really good at representing the club in a really tough week. Other than one penalty incident, I don't think so." With too much going on, both teams will return to the Premiership on December 26, when Rangers receive St. Mirren and Dundee United welcome Hibernian (both 15:00 GMT).

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3 talking points as the Rangers push past Covid hit Dundee United thanks to the James Tavernier penalty

Giovanni van Bronckhorst continued his unbeaten start as Ibrox boss, but his team had to work for it. (Author: Gardener)

RangersCovid-struck Dundee United felt sick when Scott McMann's handball allowed the Rangers to play an eighth game without defeat under Gio van Bronckhorst. Terror boss Tam Courts was forced to defend his team this week after a team night in Newcastle ended with an outbreak in his squad. They weren't reversed until McMann's costly decision to throw an arm on a James Tavernier cross left referee Alan Muir no choice but to point the way. With 19 minutes to go, the Rangers skipper managed to keep his team in the lead under their new Dutch boss - and increased their lead at the top of the table to seven points. Dundee United - the only Scottish team to have beaten Gers this season - slide to fifth after their fourth straight defeat. That meant Declan Glass, Chris Mochrie, Darren Watson, Archie Meekison, and 16-year-old debutant Craig Moore all got a chance to shine. The big team news in the ranks of the Gers saw Tavernier and right-back Nathan Patterson together for the first time at the start. Patterson was transferred to a left-back to replace Borna Barisic, who was eliminated due to illness in Wednesday's win against St. Johnstone. John Lundstram also replaced the rested Joe Aribo, who could not compete in the league for the first time this season. The changes in United's line-up didn't make it any easier to break down, especially as Gers missed the fresh spark and fast pace they'd shown in van Bronckhorst's opening month. Tavernier - who appeared to be playing as the center-back briefly before returning to his usual slot - was caught when Court's team countered, but Nicky Clark's shot went straight at Allan McGregor. James Tavernier celebrates with his Rangers teammates after scoring against Dundee United. He got to the heart of his youth colleague Mochrie, but Lundstram got an important block. Lundstram saw a shot deflected far before Tavernier dashed around a corner. It was not until a minute before the break for the Master to test Trevor Carson in the Gate of Terror. It was a lead-footed first period for the Rangers so van Bronckhorst made a change during the break, trading Lundstram for Scott Wright to up the temperature against United. But what Gers really screamed for was Aribo's invention and van Bronckhorst realized he couldn't wait any longer when he introduced the playmaker 25 minutes before the end. Wright saw an attempt by Carson stall before a long delay while United schoolboy Moore lay on the stretcher, adding even more frustration to the Ibrox setup. But those fragile nerves were calmed with 19 minutes left when McMann's insane decision to throw an arm at Tavernier's cross gave the Rangers the breakthrough. James Tavernier scores 1-0 for Rangers against Dundee United from the penalty spot Morelos thought he would have scored the fourth game in a row but was denied by an offside flag from Gers' runner-up as he had started his run a fraction on a Tavernier free kick early. Muir was the man who enabled Celtic to take a late win in Ross County mid-week when he played seven minutes of stoppage time. There were some concerns among home fans when he signaled there would be five extra minutes of play this time around, but Gers breathed a sigh of relief when Watson's late looping header hit McGregor's crossbar before bouncing out. The Rangers boss was busy on the sidelines making the fine-tuning his team needed to take the points. First he started with Nathan Patterson as right-back and Calvin Bassey on the opposite side. But that only lasted four minutes before Patterson switched left, while Tavernier's short run in an unfamiliar center-back role was quickly reconsidered when Bassey returned to mid-defense. John Lundstram was given the central role in midfield, while Glen Kamara started next to Scott Arfield. Lundstram then made way during the break when Scott Wright came on to give Gers much-needed energy in the final third. It was a bit of a mess, but van Bronckhorst doesn't care how his team got the three points, just that they've kept their impressive run since taking over the rumble. The Rangers playmaker has been on fiery form lately, but the decision to pause Aribo has removed much of Gers' threat. It paid off when Gers survived to take the win, but don't expect him to be back on the bench anytime soon. Dundee United manager Tam Courts watches from the sidelines as his side takes the Rangers fair play on Tam Courts and his Tannadice youngsters. The United boss had a week of nightmare when the club was forced to close its training base in St. Andrews following a Covid outbreak. With a number of first-team stars locked in their bedrooms, Courts had to turn to the Academy trainees he was in charge of last year. They may have left Ibrox empty-handed, but Glass, Mochrie, Watson, Meekison and 16-year-old Moore can all hold their heads high after showing a mature performance against the champions.

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Valerien Ismaels "broken record" and West Brom need after Lai transfer talks

The talking points of Oakwell as West Brom can't get past Barnsley and miss a chance to catch up with Bournemouth (Author: Gardener)

West BromDespite many chances, West Brom failed to score with promotion rivals Bournemouth on Friday night when they were left frustrated by Barnsley in the Yorkshire fog. There have been a good five or six very decent openings, but the sufferings of the Baggies in front of the gate continue to haunt them and they failed to bring festive joy to the ardent followers who made it north. They could have possibly won at five or six, such was their territorial dominance and the quality of the odds, but Albion ended up missing their biggest chance of them all - putting even more pressure on a Bournemouth side that is crumbling and who is ? suffered a second straight defeat in Middlesbrough on Saturday. Here are the talking points from Oakwell. Albion cannot put the ball in the net. I could have written that sentence after a dozen or more games this season. Valerien Ismael knows, in truth he has known for weeks and weeks. Yes, they've taken a few teams to the sword this season, but they haven't scored enough goals week after week. That much was clear at the start of the season and when we arrive for Christmas it couldn't have been more often than those 90 minutes in Oakwell. Jordan Hugill, Karlan Grant, Callum Robinson, Darnell Furlong, Matt Clarke, and Cedric Kipre (the latter twice) all had vacancies. Ismael basically confirmed that the club are desperately working to close a deal for a striker who may add to this roster appropriately over the next month due to an unexpected visit from owner Guochuan Lai. His arrival, whoever it is, cannot come soon enough. Clarke, Kipre and Conor Townsend only had a single training session on Thursday afternoon before the group headed north that evening, 24 hours before the game. All three of these players, especially Kipre in recent weeks, have made their mark on the Baggies' defensive line, which despite battles elsewhere on the pitch has some of the best records in the league. Whether these three players were ready to return so quickly and with so little preparation is up for debate. Adam Reach and Jake Livermore in defense were in midfield against Reading and it worked - they pushed up, suffocated their opponents and Robinson made sure Albion earned all the points their performance deserved. Restoring the Covid-stricken trio so quickly didn't cost Albion in the sense that they suffered defensively, but holding onto - rather than twisting - this attack, which is centered on the chain of three, could have produced a more positive outcome . Recovering those three players naturally meant Reach, Jayson Molumby, and Taylor Gardner-Hickman were the boys and had to settle for a seat on the bench. Gardner-Hickman in particular can regret not being part of the starting XI; After all, in the last few weeks he has given man-of-the-match displays in three different positions and has proven that he can produce at this level too. There was one more string in Reach's versatility bow against Reading where he barely got a foot wrong while Molumby put down an enjoyable and energetic performance in the middle, and for the last 20 minutes here was a sample of what Albion had been missing. Ishmael will have his proven players. It's also fair comment that the Christmas schedule is grueling and all of this can be expected with a turnout in the coming days and weeks, but on this occasion some members of the squad may regret having missed a spot. The irony is that Albion have made up a point at Bournemouth whose own promotion spurt has really hit the buffers in the last few weeks after their last defeat at Middlesbrough. The Cherries have won one of their last eight games and none of their last six and the frustration will be that Albion are still a few points behind them after that time. We're halfway through the season and although things could have gone better and those first 23 games weren't entirely convincing, second place - at least, by the way - is very much up for grabs. Slaven Bilic used to say that when it came to promotions, it was better to be the hunter than the hunted. What do you think Albion needs in the January transfer window?

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