Steven Gerrard made a big call yesterday. He rested Scott Arfield.
For all the manager’s talk about rotation and using the full squad, the Canada captain has played every match this season bar Hibs (and technically St Joseph’s but he was away with his country), starting out in attack then recently being withdrawn to midfield to cover Ryan Jack’s injury.
And after his tiring summer on international duty with his country at the Gold Cup (they advanced deep to the quarter finals) he returned to Govan for July’s second leg v Progres and has played every match since, bar that aforementioned visit of Paul Heckingbottom’s men.
And it’s safe to say his performances this season have suffered a little from that possible case of exhaustion.
In short, it’s not unreasonable to suggest Arfield, over 30 now (and nearly 31), is a little burned out.
This guy is a workhorse, giving everything to the cause and never shirking anything, but there can be little doubt the quality of his displays this term haven’t quite overall matched those of the split, and he’s looked like a player who’s been needing a serious refresh ever since the summer.
He was given Killie off last season, but barely two weeks later he was in USA for the Gold Cup, and we can’t shake off that feeling the guy could use a much longer rest.
Indeed, of Steven Gerrard’s 76 matches in charge at Ibrox, Arfield has played 59 of them, and didn’t really get much of a break this summer at all.
Put simply, we entirely endorse Gerrard’s resting him v St Johnstone (even if he still came on anyway). We hope he does the same v Livi, giving the ex-Falkirk man a really good time out and chance to recharge his batteries properly.
Scott Arfield is really a major captain for Rangers – he leads by example and he works as hard as anyone, but we want him at his best and not both mentally and physically exhausted.
If the industrious attacker needs a little time to recuperate, we’re happy with that.