Celtic can burst Gerrard’s ‘favourites’ bubble with win at Ibrox

Celtic go to Ibrox tomorrow with all the bookies making the home side the favourites.

The mood among sports writers, if a quick glance around some of the tabloids is anything to go by, suggests not many favour a Celtic triumph.

The Rangers fans have evidently been piling on. The narrative is that they’ve enjoyed a great start to the season, while Celtic have struggled.

As they say, however, a fool and his money are soon parted.

They would do well to remember the time they thought Celtic would be easy pickings in the Scottish Cup, 18 months ago.

Their fans celebrated wildly as they were drawn against us in the semi-final, after putting together a winning run of around six games against teams including Ayr United.

That would be the last of their celebrations that season.

Celtic went onto blow them away 4-0 at Hampden, but not before 10 men had won 3-2 at Ibrox to effectively kill off any prospect of a title ‘challenge’.

We then scored five in an hour on the day we clinched the league before taking our foot off the gas, meaning we’d scored 12 against them in around 6 weeks.

This season, Celtic sit top of the league, not ‘joint top’, as some might have it. Despite having an unsettled defence, no one has been able to live with Celtic attack.

That included Cluj, on that disastrous night in the Champions League. A lot will have been learned from then, on the pitch.

Celtic evidently need to strengthen at left-back and centre-half and Neil Lennon will justifiably feel aggrieved if this doesn’t happen.

The squad is still paper thin and we’ll be going to Ibrox will few options in the event of injury or tactical switches, should the need arise.

The Ibrox side’s confidence is boosted having managed to beat a couple of teams they struggled against last year in Hibs and Kilmarnock. However, several times they’ve relied on set pieces and/or late winners (just as well games don’t finish in the 86th minute this year, eh!).

They will come at Celtic all guns blazing and a lot will ride on how derby debutants Bolingoli, Jullien and, possibly, Bauer, settle into the game, as well as the potential availability of Ajer. However, a quick goal from an in-form Forrest or Edouard could silence the home crowd.

The midfield will be crucial. Scott Brown is battling time now, but his warrior’s experience could be vital, while Christie and McGregor have developed into top class midfielders. If they’re firing on all cylinders, Celtic should win the game.

Rangers have, not for the first time, high hopes against Celtic. They’ve signed a large number of players, as usual, but there are still none of their attackers who would even trouble Celtic players for a spot on the bench, far less the first team.

Anything can happen in these matches, but have a set of earplugs handy. Not just for the bile from the stands if, as expected, they revert to their ‘traditional’ songbook now UEFA can’t touch them. But if Neil Lennon bursts their bubble tomorrow you’ll be able to hear the pop for miles around.


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