Anyone who thinks that Rangers will arrive at Celtic Park on Wednesday evening low on confidence or strategy better think again. For all their poor recent form they are top of the league, beat Celtic comfortably earlier this season and have a squad full of players who know what it’s like to win the league.
They will revert to a familiar strategy. Pack the midfield, deny Celtic’s creative players space, take no chances at the back and wait for a seasonal gift from Celtic. I watched their recent defeat to St Mirren and I think it’s possible to question some players’ attitude to the game but things will be different at Celtic Park. Already written off by many, ironically, they will arrive with the confidence only a team with nothing to lose can muster.
Celtic’s league form over the last two months has been exceptional and their Europa League performances indicate there is a lot more to come from this squad but they still have plenty to prove. A particular concern will be the lack of a settled team in recent months. Kelvin Wilson is likely to start his first game in months and I’d not be surprised to see Emilio Izaguirre back.
The front pairing is also a concern. Georgios Samaras is back to his best form but he and Hooper have never convinced as a partnership. We have to hope that Victor Wanyama can be relieved of central defensive duties to allow him to anchor midfield alongside Beram Kayal. Neither Brown nor Ki are sufficiently imposing in the crucial central midfield area. No matter how Celtic start on Wednesday the team will have a makeshift feel to it, any win will be hard earned.