CHARLIE NICHOLAS reckons Celtic have the ideal opportunity to clinch the title for the tenth time in 11 years at Ibrox on Sunday.
The former Hoops goalscoring hero insists there will be no way back for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team if they lose and go six points behind Ange Postecoglou’s men.
The Parkhead outfit, with a vastly superior goal difference of plus 14, would have six games left to play – one of them against the Govan club in the east end of Glasgow – and a win over their city neighbours would bring the race for the crown to an early conclusion.
Nicholas said: “If Rangers were to lose to Celtic in Sunday’s high noon Old Firm showdown, then the Premiership title race would be all but over.
“It is a gigantic game for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Gers side. They can’t afford to lose at Ibrox. It would be very difficult for Rangers to fight back to retain the title, especially as it would leave them six points behind the Hoops with just six games to go.
“Most of the pressure is on the defending champions.
“It is not just about the three-point gap because, even if Rangers were to win, Celtic would still be top on goal difference.
“It is the manner in which they were embarrassed at Celtic Park last month that will have stuck in the throats of Gers players and fans alike.åç
“Celtic weren’t fabulous for much of that 3-0 victory at Parkhead. And you can also look back to the chance Joe Aribo had at 1-0. It’s fine margins.
“Celtic then had a good 15 to 20 minutes that saw them kill the game.”
Nicholas also believes boss Postecoglou will keep faith with Giorgis Gaikoumakis to lead the line – even if the talismanic Kyogo Furuhashi, who has yet to play this year due to a hamstring problem, is fit to join proceedings.
The one-time Scotland international frontman who had two spells at Parkhead added: “I’d start with Giorgos Giakoumakis up front – even if Kyogo Furuhashi is fit after his three-month lay-off.
“Giakoumakis isn’t going to worry the Rangers defence with his pace, but it could turn into a scrap, which would suit him. I expect Ange Postecoglou to go with the Greek through the middle.
“Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada have pace on the flanks and they will trouble the Rangers defence.
“Plan B is in this match are not style or tactics, but bench options. It could be won or lost in the last 20 minutes, however.
“It is a difficult one for both bosses as they still have a couple of days before knowing if all their international players are fit.”
So far the news has been good for the Parkhead side, but, of course, there will be concerns over skipper Callum McGregor and defender Greg Taylor who could figure for Scotland in tonight’s friendly against Austria in Vienna.