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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
Mark McDougall

Calvin Bassey issues Rangers reminder and 2 more takeaways from hard fought draw with Arsenal

Rangers had to work hard to earn a point against a strong and dominant Arsenal side at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon.

21 players got game time throughout the game at Ibrox with Allan McGregor the only player who played the full game for Rangers while Arsenal also made plenty of changes.

Steven Gerrard's side got goals from Leon Balogun and Cedric Itten that were cancelled out by Nuno Tavares and Eddie Nketiah in a match that didn't really show the best of their abilities.

It was evident it wasn't being viewed as a simple friendly when Calvin Bassey was chopped down after 12 minutes.

The full back went on a rampaging run forward and skipped past Arsenal's Pablo Mari and the centre back made a tackle that could easily have seen red to take him out.

Ianis Hagi's free kick was headed out for a corner and from that, James Tavernier whipped in a brilliant ball for Balogun to head into the back of the net.

The lead lasted barely 10 minutes though as Tavernier took a poor touch and it allowed Nuno Tavares in behind and the Arsenal new boy slotted past Allan McGregor.

Arsenal were showing their ability and Flo Balogun was unlucky Gunners in front when he was played in by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but his Rangers namesake managed to put him off enough and McGregor saved.

The second half continued where the first half left off, although Gerrard made a couple of changes to his team. Glen Kamara's game was over and he was replaced by Nathan Patterson, while Jack Simpson came on for Balogun.

That saw Tavernier moved into a right wing role in what was an attempt to get him and Patterson in the same team.

Arsenal continued to dominate though and forced McGregor into two early saves. The first came from a long range effort from Thomas Partey before Emile Smith Rowe had a crack at goal and McGregor had to match it.

Kieran Tierney was introduced to boos from the home support and after he fouled John Lundstram, the midfielder got on the end of the free kick but headed over the bar in a rare attack from the home side.

Both sides made a host of changes and although Arsenal had the best of the chances, it was Rangers who eventually took the lead with 15 to go.

George Edmundson did brilliantly to win a corner and Glenn Middleton put it right on the head of Cedric Itten and the Swiss frontman headed into the corner of the net.

It should have been 3-1 to Rangers before the end as Middleton put a good ball across the box but Stephen Kelly's effort was poor and easily saved.

It was 2-2 soon after as Middleton did well but was then robbed inside the box by Eddie Nketiah and he finished low below McGregor.

And it could have been 3-2 to Arsenal soon after when Hector Bellerin got forward and he forced a great save from McGregor yet again.

Bassey and Wright the stars of the show

Rangers didn't have many standouts in the game but two players who impressed were Calvin Bassey and Scott Wright. From the first minute, Bassey was full of energy in an attacking sense and got the Ibrox men forward at every opportunity.

He was lucky to escape injury in the first half when Pablo Mari chopped him down but he dusted himself off and was Rangers best player throughout the 60 he was on the field.

He defended well too and showed that he could perhaps be the replacement for Borna Barisic if the Croatian's injury issues continue.

It was a similar story for Wright who replaced Defoe in the first half and it was another good 60 minutes under his belt as he played in the front three and in midfield.

He performed well in both and also showed his defensive strengths by getting stuck in when he needed to. It's been a good pre-season for him and he'll likely be hoping for a more regular start over this season.

Set piece success but Rangers struggle overall

Rangers didn't have the best of games but both goals coming from set pieces show what they can do from that area of attack. The first was a perfect ball in from Tavernier and if anything, Middleton's delivery for the second was even better.

They also had other chances from set pieces with Lundstram heading over and a ball from Hagi being defended brilliantly by Arsenal when it looked like it was going onto Connor Goldson's head.

It's an area where Rangers impressed last season and they're clearly focused on it again this time around and it's an example of why Gerrard's men will be a big threat again this season.

Overall though, it was a real struggle for Rangers at times in the game with Arsenal dominating a lot of the ball. It's the third pre-season match in a row where Rangers haven't been right at it and they'll need to step it up in the final three games before the league campaign begins in two weeks.

Fan return a joy to see

It might not have been as many fans in the stadium as everyone wanted, but the noise made by 2000 supporters added to the experience of the friendly.

Football never felt quite right last season with no supporters in the ground so even the small number at Ibrox made it a much better spectacle.

It was a great sight to see and hopefully over the coming days and weeks we'll see more fans in stadia across the country and get football in the country a bit of normality.

Do you want an exclusive pre-season Rangers preview - both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy.

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