Rangers paying price for poor defending, says Billy Dodds

Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds believes they are being hampered by some poor defensive performances.

Steven Gerrard’s side were held to a 2-2 draw at St Johnstone on Sunday, with Celtic defeating Kilmarnock 3-1 on the same day to extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 12 points.

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Before the winter break in Scotland, Rangers were just two points behind their Glasgow rivals with a game in hand after winning at Celtic Park for the first time in nine years.

“I thought their performance level was pretty good from midfield to front and in creating chances,” Dodds told Sky Sports News.

“They got two goals but the central defensive pairing were really poor on the day, especially Nikola Katic.

“I don’t know if it’s focus or just a bit of discipline [lacking]. Steven Gerrard needs his defenders to be at their best because Rangers are struggling to get goals just now.

“I know they scored two yesterday but they have been struggling to score in games, so they need their defenders to stand up when they’re not and yesterday they didn’t.”

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Dodds says there is enough quality available to Gerrard but feels they have fallen short of the standards they reached earlier in the season.

He admits the title race is pretty much over now, meaning their upcoming games against Braga in the Europa League and Hearts in the Scottish Cup take on extra significance.

“I don’t think you can say they are lacking in quality because right up until the winter break they were putting in a challenge to Celtic, so the quality is there,” he added.

“If they had won their game in hand they had the chance to go top but since then they have completely switched off and it’s all gone wrong. They’ve lost a bit of confidence within games.

“They’ve got a huge week coming up and they have Hearts in the Scottish Cup when they get back. With the league looking like it’s out of reach, these two competitions come to the fore.”

In contrast, Celtic have now won 19 of their last 20 league matches after making some crucial alterations and Dodds believes Gers have not reacted to that.

“They’ve gone and analysed, tweaked their shape and had a little change of personnel, put two up front and it seems to be working,” said Dodds.

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