Rangers might’ve huffed and puffed against a stubborn Dundee United but a big risk involving Joe Aribo ahead of the clashes with Old Firm rivals Celtic has paid off.

The Nigerian international midfielder has been on fine form this season and against the Covid-19 impacted Arabs manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst opted to start him on the bench.

But not – as the Dutchman would later reveal – for rotational reasons as the Gers looked ahead to that crunch Parkhead tie in a fortnight’s time.

Rangers handed Joe Aribo Old Firm suspension boost ahead of Celtic trip

Joe Aribo has had five Scottish Premiership yellow cards this season with the next one flashed in his direction set to result in a one-match suspension.


But under SFA rules, it wouldn’t be the match immediately after the booking with suspensions for this offence suspended for a fortnight from the date the sixth yellow was picked up.

That means had Aribo been booked in the midweek 2-0 victory over St Johnstone, he’d have missed the trip to Pittodrie on the 29th of December to face Aberdeen.

Despite eventually risking Joe Aribo against Dundee United, Rangers boss van Bronckhorst would explain that he felt better of starting him with one eye on the January 2nd Old Firm clash.

“We have a big squad. We can rotate without losing a lot of quality,” said van Bronckhorst [RangersTV].

“Of course, Joe is the man in form. He’s done really well.

“But we also have to keep an eye on the next fixtures, so we were able to give him a rest today.”

Olympique Lyon v Rangers FC: Group A - UEFA Europa League

Rangers star Joe Aribo will be free to play Celtic in the upcoming Old Firm derby. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

With the Gers struggling to break down a well-organised and committed Dundee United unit, after 64 minutes the prospect of dropping points had Joe Aribo kitted up and on the park.

As it transpired the risk paid off, Rangers winning 1-0 courtesy of a James Tavernier penalty and Joe Aribo not being yellow carded, with the news a huge boost ahead of the January 2nd Old Firm grudge match.

There were also doubts surrounding the availability of Nigeria star Joe Aribo for this match for AFCON reasons but this has now been settled by van Bronckhorst.

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