Hard to believe but Walter Smith has been talking sense. The real fear for Rangers should be ten-in-a-row. That’s five in the bag. Five to go. Obviously, Walter would play Goram in goal and Laudrup up front and use the other nine players as defenders. That worked for him, time after time. But Mark Warburton favours a more expansive game. Well, at least I hope he does. Because Walter Smith’s game plan is perfect for derailing the current Celtic crop. Look at Molde, for inspiration, or any of the so called European lightweights. Look to Ross County. Look at the recent Dundee performance, sit in and Celtic and Boyata, in particular, will give you the ball. You don’t have to be anything great and Rangers aren’t. Man for man none of the Rangers players could get near the Celtic first team. I doubt if any of them would make the Celtic reserve team. Then again, I’m biased, when Goram and Laudrup ripped up Celtic I was loath to admit they’d be good enough to wear the hoops and grudgingly allocated them a place on the mythical Celtic bench where we let players rot.
Man for man Celtic are better, but Rangers can win – if they score first. If Celtic score first I expect them to win by four or five. Score prediction: Celtic 5 – Rangers 1.
Let’s be honest, neither team can defend, so even Rangers will hit a consolation goal.
Erik Sviatchenko faces a fitness test. I guess he’ll be passed fit, but I don’t really want him to play. He’s not the best in the air and he’s slower than Boyata, who will play. I hope we go with Mulgrew, who’s slower than everybody, including me, but he’s been OK in recent weeks (well, Scott McDonald did give him a bit of a roasting; one goal and one disallowed) but that apart, Mulgrew and Boyata in the central defence positions. They should be able to take care of Ranger’s forwards. What we don’t want is Boyata passing the ball from the back. That brings back the nightmarish Ambrose territory.
Craig Gordon has been great in recent weeks. Long may it continue. Cross balls is his downfall, but even here, he’s not been too bad. Bit of a worry on the big Hampden pitch that he thinks he’s a sweeper and rushes out of the goal. Fingers crossed he catches crosses and sees sense.
Kieran Tierney is the future of Celtic. Outstanding, even if he did try and usher a ball out of play last week and lost Celtic a goal. But he set up two and he can defend.
Mikael Lustig. Ho-hum. More dangerous in the opposition box where he’s more likely to score from headers. In our own box has been found wanting of late. Tall and rangy, usually not a bad user of the ball, on the big Hampden pitch that should be an asset.
Patrick Roberts will play in front of him. That means more work for Lustig, but Roberts is a player that likes to take the ball forward. He likes to go past players and he likes to shoot. He’s in the team on merit. He’s our great hope of opening up the Ranger’s defence.
On the other wing, Colin Kasim-Richards got a surprise start last week. Big and strong, he didn’t lose a ball in the air and had a good game. Missed a sitter and liable to get sent off. That’s the downside, but he showed that defensively he’s strong in the air and can play on the wing. I’d play him in front of Gary Mackay Steven. Stuart Armstrong is another option, but he’s been so far out of the frame I’ve got more chance of playing, but you never know. Deila likes to tinker and it’s usually in the wide positions. He might even play Kris Commons.
Scott Brown captain and central midfielder. Ho-hum.
Nir Bitton, ho-hum.
Stefan Johansen will play the more advanced role. That’s the theory. Tom Rogic is miles better, but he’ll be kept in reserve. Kris Commons is the best in Scotland but can’t get a sniff. To be fair, Johnasen hasn’t been as absolutely shite as he was earlier in the season. So here’s hoping he proves me and the Celtic supporters wrong.
Leigh Griffiths, on fire and scored 37 goals this season. That’s the propaganda. Last week against Motherwell he was the worst man on the park wearing the hoops. Before that he hadn’t scored in four games and contributed little of note (I’m including his Scotland cap). His penalty miss was a shocker. And he was equally culpable before that and should have hit three or four goals before half time against Motherwell. But he’s a bit like the Celtic team, if he turns up, if they turn up, comfortable win. Unless, of course, I spot Walter Smith sitting in the dugout I don’t think there should be too much to worry the Bhoys.