Old Firm build-up is similar to previous match, but some differences
Photo credit should read ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Old Firm build-up is similar to previous match, but some differences

The Old Firm build-up is one of the most exciting parts of the fixture, but this one feels eerily similar.

Steven Gerrard has plenty of matches before his side take on Celtic. Hibernian, Hearts, and Aberdeen are just three of the huge fixtures on the way before Celtic come to town.

Yet, there is a real sense of deja vu coming into play here. That’s because this upcoming clash of the titans feels oh so similar to the fixture between them back in December 2016.

Remember that one? That’s the match where Mark Warburton’s Rangers hosted Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic at Ibrox for the first time. The result itself was one to forget for Rangers fans, with Celtic winning 2-1.

Mark Warburton’s Rangers ran Celtic close at Ibrox two years ago (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Kenny Miller’s opener had Ibrox roaring, and Rangers had Celtic on the ropes. Moussa Dembele, however, responded before half-time before Scott Sinclair netted in the second half. It ended up being a dismal afternoon, but there is one big difference this time around.

No, it’s not the fact that Sinclair is now half the player he once was or that Dembele is no longer in Glasgow, although both help. It’s the fact there’s a higher quality of player at Rangers and confidence levels are through the roof.

Yes, Warburton’s meeting at Ibrox with Celtic had the same background to it. The Gers were looking to thwart Celtic’s dominance on Scottish football and take them down a peg.

Rangers, however, went into that match 16 points behind their rivals. This time, it may only be two if things stay the same. Of course, for all we know, Rangers could actually have leaped above Celtic by that stage if they have a positive December.

Rangers are fully up for the clash in December (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There wasn’t a lot to cheer about last September at Celtic Park for Rangers fans, but it was better than Warburton’s experience at the same venue. He lost 5-1 on his first and only visit to Parkhead, whilst Gerrard only lost by a goal. Yes, it wasn’t the best performance, but it wasn’t am embarrassment that will be remembered for years also.

The build-up to this clash in December is the same but with so many different back-stories. A defeat next month remains just as unthinkable as it was under Warburton.

But whilst a win wouldn’t have turned on a title-race two years ago, it certainly would this time around. Rangers are looking on fire at Ibrox, and have confidence flowing through them once more.

They’ve picked themselves up from their Celtic Park disaster, and look ready to put things right. It’s important, however, that they don’t freeze on the big occasion like they did two years ago.