Rangers continued their impressive start to life under Philippe Clement with a routine win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena yesterday.

In a game punctuated with VAR calls, Ross McCausland impressed on a full league debut. The visitors missed one penalty before scoring another and while the scoreline remained slender until James Tavernier found the net at the second time of asking, Livingston only had a single shot on target with 0.15xG come full-time.


Two penalties account for a large percentage of the chances fashioned by the visitors in West Lothian. Over the course of Clement’s five league games in charge Rangers’ xG/90 has jumped considerably, however, from 1.78 to 2.24 per 90. Similarly on a defensive front Rangers’ xG conceded has dropped from 0.66 to 0.34.

Clement’s teams have started to take recognisable form and style. Although not everything is fixed at the time of writing, not that it could be, the Belgian has been true to his word of working towards a list of priorities. He’s made this side a more potent attacking force who plays with a greater degree of intensity. We saw how Rangers struggled in the second half of a late 2-1 win over Hearts at Ibrox but that aside, crucially without falling behind, they’ve built a steady stream of momentum.

Under Clement’s tutelage Rangers are playing forward more quickly and although on occasion that’s being traded off for a degree of control, the side are mixing up methods of attack more visibly and being ruthless with the space that is afforded to them.

Looking at the side's pass network on Sunday, you can see a definitive 4-2-4 shape on the ball. Clement wants to commit numbers to his attack and is happier going over the top of defences; with two wide men in each 11, the powerful running of Abdallah Sima and less rotation from midfielders into the full-back slots.

What does that look like in practice? An off-hand comment from Cyriel Dessers’ press conference on Sunday can provide further insight. Asked about his goal, the forward said: “It’s a throw-in for them we defend well, and we work on that as well.”

The temptation here might be to write off this comment as insignificant. After all, what does a throw-in near the Ibrox side’s 18-yard box have to do with the overall improving health of their attack?

Look at the three following images and notice the numbers committed by Livingston in the Rangers half from first half throw-ins.

These numbers aren’t all that different from those committed to a corner, for example, but because the throw-in takes place further from goal, and thus closer to Livingston’s, it presents an opportunity to attack.

'Defending a throw-in' was also how Rangers won their penalty to open the scoring against Hearts at Hampden recently.

In the simplest of terms, as the Rangers Review explored after the League Cup Semi-Final, there’s more than one way to break down a team sitting in their low block. Especially before Clement has the time and space on the training ground to work on the patterns of play which unlock deep defences and move beyond the reliance on crossing, exploiting each sighting of space is crucial.

READ MORE: Inside Ross McCausland's Rangers rise: A vital trip home, modelling Davis and belief

This is exactly what an attacking team is seeking out when breaking down a low-block - space. So why not take full advantage of the situations when an opponent offers up room as they themselves look to attack?

Dessers’ opener on Sunday saw Rangers do just that. As the home side tried to play short into the feet of Joel Nouble from a throw-in, Lawrence was alive to pick up a loose second ball.

Again, to borrow a phrase from Dessers, Lawrence's “main strength is his passing”. It’s the attacking midfielder’s long-range shots which have often endeared him to the Ibrox support since joining in the summer of 2022 but Lawrence also possesses vision from deep and the ability to find teammates over range that was shown to assist the opener.

In a matter of seconds bellow, Rangers have created this opening thanks to the guile of their No.11. Dessers’ curved run creates space for his teammate to deliver into, before finding a finish. All seconds after a Livingston throw-in.

🗣️ "He's having to fight to win over the Rangers fans, but he's in their hearts now!"

Cyriel Dessers gives Rangers a 1-0 lead against Livingston with a cool finish! Watch it live on Sky Sports now 👇📺 pic.twitter.com/fsib7dA174

Elsewhere, McCausland impressed from the right and was unfortunate to see a seemingly legitimate goal chopped off, but fortunate to earn a penalty earlier in the same half.

Clement’s desire to play with two wide attackers in each line-up has presented the youngster with an opportunity. The winger is a two-way attacker. He’s capable of moving inside and finding the far side of the pitch as we saw in midweek against Sparta Prague when he created three good openings from the right, or hitting the byline. The 20-year-old worked well with Tavernier, as the pair exchanged underlapping runs at times.

Clement's start to life in Glasgow has impressed. His team have a clear style and there’s a purpose to their play, with an intensity in the attack resonating with supporters.

In working to a list of priorities, Clement will know that the patient, probing possession required to open up deep defences remains a requirement. There’s no doubt that in his first month, however, the Belgian has quickly improved this side's attacking in transition. 

As Rangers constantly battle for space domestically, it's only sensible to exploit every opportunity.