Rangers prepare to travel to Celtic Park for the first Old Firm derby of the season as they look to lay down a marker for their intentions in this campaign.
Often frenetic, frantic affairs – largely driven by an expectant crowd – this Rangers v Celtic match will be played behind closed doors in a major twist to proceedings.
Rangers currently sit atop the Scottish Premiership, a point ahead of Celtic who have a game in hand over their Ibrox rivals.
Whilst this is the first of four Old Firm matches in the league this season, and we’re only a quarter of the way through the campaign, fans of both sides will be expecting a result here.
There will be plenty of time to amend any negative result for either side but given the immense pressure on the league campaign expect a response no matter what way this goes.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will be confident in his charges going to Celtic Park and winning, his team having done so already in December in front of 60,000 fans and with the Gers on good form.
Celtic have been winning without being fantastic and will come up against their biggest test of the season in Rangers.
Few will argue they will need to step up their game for this match.
Steven Gerrard has some big decisions to make regarding his starting XI and there are probably nine places which are easier to pick than others.
If Allan McGregor is fit – the legendary stopper a doubt for the match – then he should start over Jon McLaughlin.
James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Filip Helander and Borna Barisic will – if all fit and ready to play – form the Ibrox side’s backline.
In the midfield, Glen Kamara, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield have started the bulk of fixtures over the last month or so due to injuries but Ryan Jack is a big-game player and back fit and firing.
Glen Kamara is also usually always fancied in big matches too, with Steven Davis rested for Northern Ireland ahead of the game.
It would be incredibly harsh to drop Scott Arfield for this match – his performances catching the eye of Steven Gerrard earlier in the month – which means he could be pushed further forward.This would mean a front three of Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Scott Arfield, whose movement between the lines would hope to disrupt a nervous Celtic defence.
Those decisions in midfield and on the right-hand side of the attack are probably the biggest ones going into the match and Steven Gerrard could even spring a surprise.
But experience tends to pay off in these matches which is why we’re predicting Arfield will be given the nod a little further up the field.