Five things we learned as Rangers close in on Scottish Premiership crown with win over Kilmarnock

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Rangers moved within four games of clinching the title with the narrow win over Kilmarnock on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Jack’s volley was the moment of quality within the game as the Ibrox side took another significant step towards their first title in a decade.

Here’s what and Times Sport learned from the 90 minutes..

Age is just a number

Steven Davis has still got it. Steven Gerrard’s optimism that the Northern Ireland internationalist will sign another contract with Rangers would underline just how valuable he is to the current squad. Experience apart – Davis was there the last time Rangers lifted the title – the 36-year-old has the quality to create as well as to protect.

Jack’s goal was notable for the quality of its execution but it was Davis who pulled the strings in the middle of the park at the weekend. As Gerrard’s side look ahead to renewing their European campaign with the game against Royal Antwerp on Thursday night, Davis will be expected to play a significant role against the Belgians. “We are really looking forward to it, Europe has been enjoyable for us throughout my time here and we want to try and go and kick on in that obviously a difficult tie but one we are really looking forward to,” said Davis, who was part of the UEFA Cup final team under Walter Smith in 2008.  

The countdown is on

It is all about the numbers now for Rangers. Four games from the title and the stats that have underpinned the campaign make for interesting reading; the win against Tommy Wright’s side made it the 22nd clean sheet of the season for Rangers and their 14th successive league win at Ibrox. Of the eight games that the Ibrox side have played since the turn of the year five have been won by a one-goal margin.

Regardless of the narrow nature of the results, the sheer consistency and defensive solidity has taken them to within touching distance of the title. The form at home, too, where they have been impenetrable has given Rangers the foundation to accelerate towards the title. Dundee United, Livingston, St Mirren and Celtic are the next four games that lie in wait for Gerrard’s side with the possibility of claiming the title at Celtic Park still a possibility.  

Europa League time

Gerrard has urged Rangers to relish the opportunity they have as they head into the last 32 of the Europa League. On the cusp of ending Celtic’s domestic stranglehold, the Ibrox side have also sustained the progress they have made in European football. Both Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe, out of the weekend games as they served their suspensions, will be available for selection for Thursday night’s game as Rangers look to make it into the last-16 of the tournament for the second successive season. “The group is a lot more healthy than it was a few weeks back – we’ve got options to pick from,” said Gerrard. “The players should be really excited now and embrace what’s in front of them, go and be the best version of themselves. If they do, they have a wonderful opportunity to turn this season into a success.” 

Frustrating Ryan Kent

As much as Ryan Kent can open a game up, he can also frustrate. The 24-year-old has had a strong season this term but can still be wasteful at times when he is in good areas. With more attacking options available this week Rangers will benefit from having more of a threat in the final third. Kent has chipped in so far with seven goals but there is more that can come from him. His namesake, Jack, claimed a goal that his manager would have been proud off, a fine volley just before the break that took off the pressure going into the interval.  

Killie need to show more

Kilmarnock need a serious adrenalin shot if they are to engineer a way out of trouble at the foot of the table. Wright has lost both of his opening games, to Motherwell and Rangers, since taking over from Alex Dyer. The Rugby Park side’s sequence of seven straight defeats has seen them plummet to the wrong end of the table.

They are currently a point better off than Hamilton and Ross County but Kilmarnock have played two games more than Brian Rice’s side and one more than the Highlanders. With no goals from their last four games, the spectre of relegation is very real. Much will rest now on the impact that Kyle Lafferty can make but there is no question about the job that Wright has on his hands as he looks to arrest the current plight and ensure they retain their top flight status.  

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