Fresh on the back of Wednesday’s night’s victory over Motherwell, and the NFL tactics they deployed, Rangers travel to Parkhead for the second Old Firm clash of the season. The Ibrox side head to the east end looking to cause an upset, with it closing the gap at the summit of the table, before the short winter shut down. Here are 5 story-lines to follow.
1: CAN RANGERS UPSET THE ODDS?
Rangers head into this match as big underdogs. However, the away form of the Ibrox men is perhaps something we can take encouragement from. The side will no doubt draw on comparisons between this fixture and the one Murty oversaw earlier this year, that game should give the players involved confidence that a result can be achieved.
This is a better squad and group that was on the field in that fixture, and with players like Morelos now in the light blue, Rangers carry a far greater goal threat.
2: WILL MURTY SPRING ANY SURPRISES?
Old Firm games always spring up some selection surprises, I fully expect Saturday to be no different. Just who and what Murty will do is one of great debate, I’m sure we will see the reintroduction of Josh Windass after his suspension, but will Murty stick with Herrera up top alongside Morelos, or even start the wildcard in Pena? Will Ryan Jack be passed fit? Will Kranjcar retain his starting role? All eyes will be on the teamsheet, the second it’s released.
3: BALL RETENTION.
At Ibrox on Wednesday night Rangers gifted the ball back time after time to Motherwell, due in large part to sloppy misplaced or over hit passes. Rangers will have to be far more careful and decisive in possession, as Celtic will no doubt be less forgiving that Motherwell if presented with similar openings. Ball retention will be key if Rangers are to take anything from this encounter.
4: WHAT WILL THE RANGERS APPROACH BE?
This will be of great interest to watch develop, and also a huge call for Murty. Last season at Parkhead under similar circumstances Murty opted for a more rigid and defensive approach, gaining a well-deserved point in the process.
Murry also used this tactic to great effect more recently in the victory away to Hibernian. However when tried at Rugby Park last Saturday, it had disastrous consequences, if this is indeed the preferred tactic it will take a far more structured and disciplined showing than we witnessed against Kilmarnock, for it to be effective.
5: STRONG REFEREEING?
This is a must in any fixture, but more than ever in an Old Firm clash. Tackles are sure to be flying in from both sides due to the nature of the game, but the man in the middle must be strong enough to cope with the pressure, something Rangers have lacked and went against us many times already this season. The fact we enter the game without several starters and experienced players, more than a few down to horrendous challenges that went unpunished, is of great concern. Opponents of Rangers seem to be held to a far lower standard than that of our own.
All we are asking is for a fair and consistent refereeing performance.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
This is the line up I would go with in a 5-4-1 formation. Let me who you would go with and your predictions
Foderingham, Tavernier, Wilson, Alves, John, Bates, Windass, Candeias, McCorie, Pena, Morelos.
Celtic 0 Rangers 2