Celtic – Rangers | The Preview

You owe us here, Celtic…

I don’t like these games; never have, never will. There’s a number of reasons why, including the stupidly early kick off times and complete police overkill, the nerves that make the build up totally unenjoyable and that going for a pint anywhere afterwards is a pain in the arse. Ultimately, though, the fact I have to watch Rangers play at all is the worst of it. They’re really rotten at football.

Which makes the defeat on the 29th December 2018 all the more frustrating and makes this game all the more important. The defeat at Ibrox wasn’t only embarrassing in the traditional losing to your rivals sense, it was the fact that the performance and attitude from so many of the Celtic team that day was so far below what we have come to expect in recent years. That’s what really stung.

I can begrudgingly accept a defeat when you lose to a better team or through a last minute wonder strike, these things happen and sometimes you just need to hold your hands up. But that wasn’t even the case in this instance, yet the way it was reported afterwards was as though we had been lucky to escape with only a 1-0 defeat from the Brazil 1970 reincarnation that was Gerrard’s Gallant Boys in Blue.

We were really poor, however bar the period early on when it appeared we had accidentally stumbled across corner practice up at Murray Park, at no point were we consistently cut open. Also, while we’re at it, their goal was deflected and would have been saved were it not for the most minuscule touch off of Brown, the jammy, spawny bast…

Anyway, before I go off on a tangent, the manner of the defeat in December makes this game and the performance from Celtic in it, all the more important. The players know they own the fans a performance and the Celtic support expect one. Anything less than a victory for Neil Lennon’s team will be viewed as a missed opportunity to extend our league at the top of the table (effectively win the league?)and as a point gained for the Ugly Sisters.

Celtic come into this latest instalment of the Glasgow Derby fresh off a number of narrow victories secured in Tarrier Time (Copyright FollowFollow) and 10 points clear at the top of the table, while Gerrard’s Gobshites have drawn their last two league games and were unceremoniously dumped out the Scottish Cup by Aberdeen. Surely, no amount of Angel Revive Alkaline Water can save them this Sunday?

Stats & Facts Corner

  • In the last 10 meetings between the teams, Rangers have only managed 5 goals, while Celtic have rattled in an impressive 23.
  • As a manger, Neil Lennon has a middle of the road record against Rangers. This includes 8 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses. Gerrard’s 2 games against Celtic have yielded 1 win and 1 loss, but that doesn’t make him special, awryt?
  • That mob’s last victory at Celtic park was in 2010, with Kenny Miller bagging a brace and Glenn Loovens (remember him?) sticking one in his own net. But was that Oldco? Or Newco? Are we human or are we Saltcoats?
  • According to ModernFitba.com, Celtic have attempted the most passes per game in the league with 617 and Rangers the second most at 437.

Last Five

Dec’18Rangers-Celtic 1-0Premiership
Sep’18Celtic-Rangers 1-0Premiership
Apr’18Celtic-Rangers 5-0Premiership
Apr’18Celtic-Rangers 4-0Scottish Cup
Mar’18Rangers-Celtic 2-3Premiership


Right, before you start, hear me out on this. Firstly, Hayes at left back in place of Tierney might seem a bit off for a game of this magnitude. However, after Lennon’s comments in the Friday presser that Tierney is struggling with a knock and with him pulling out of the Scotland squad, I can’t help but feel that I would rather he got back to full fitness before playing any more games, particularly with the potential intensity of the game on Sunday.

Hayes has shown himself to be a willing and able stand in and was particularly impressive away to Valencia. He seems to thrive off the big occasion and you know that, much like Tierney, he will give his all on the day. Rest up Kieran and enjoy the game from the stands like you used to.

Secondly, throwing Tam in after a long lay off may seem a bit contradictory based on what I just wrote regarding Tierney, but I can’t help feeling we have missed that bit of magic in the areas in which he operates. Since he was injured playing for Australia, it has felt like our midfield lacked that final killer pass or someone with the real ability to shoot from distance.

With McGregor and Brown shuttling about behind him and preoccupying them in the middle of the park, it gives Rogic the chance to float into space left behind. Rogic and McGregor also work well together when McGregor breaks from midfield into more advanced areas, with Tam having the ability to find him in dangerous positions. Give us 60 minutes, bang one in from 30 yards and the jobs a good ‘un there Tam.

Apart from that, not much else is that controversial. French Eddy up top is the natural choice in my opinion for this game, with Burke and Weah coming off the bench should we require that burst of pace later in the game.

Much was made of how well Rangers pressed us in the December defeat and many of the issues caused by their pressing stemmed from poor distribution from Gordon. Should they choose to adopt the same high pressing style for this game, the vastly superior distribution of Bain will play an integral role in breaking their press and moving us up the park at pace.

I had to rope in some help from the Cynic’s WhatsApp to complete their line-up/formation. Without going all Uber Tim, I genuinely don’t watch them play and I reckon at least half of their squad could pass me on Buchanan Street and I wouldn’t recognise them. So if you came here for a deep dive tactical analysis on our opponents for Sunday, you will leave feeling short changed.

 What I do expect of them though is to largely set up in the same way they did in December. They will seek to press high up the park and play at an intensity designed to disrupt our flow, especially when trying to play out from the back. While we were caught out with that at Ibrox, I really can’t see that being the same with this fixture and I would have hoped that we have learned our lessons from that shocker of a performance.

Also, Andy Halliday will be in at left back. Have you seen him run?

Look Out For…

  • The level of intensity: As mentioned already, I reckon Rangers will set out to create a real intensity to proceedings designed at disrupting our passing game. They achieved this in the early periods of the game in December and we never really recovered. They’ll look at forcing errors high up the park in the hope of winning set pieces. So long as we’re not fazed by this and focus on playing our game we’ll be sound, promise ye’.
  • Morelos vs. Morelos: Wee Alfredo clearly has some talent (it appears to be stored in that massive arse of his), yet has failed to score against us and is seen by many in the Celtic support as a bit of laughing stock. However, we can’t be complacent around him or the junk in his trunk and would do well to limit his chances to a minimum. One way to achieve that? Wind.Him.Up. Get him wound up while staying out of trouble yourself and you will preoccupy his mind. Should phone up Aberdeen before Sunday and ask how they manage it, as he continuously makes a total tube of himself whenever he plays them.
  • A chance to kill them off, once and for all: I’m sure Lennon won’t need much to motivate his team on Sunday morning, especially with Gerrard’s rather bonkers Lions chat in the presser on Friday (Seriously, can someone please explain a metaphor to him?). However, should the players require any more encouragement, a win here will surely see us end all title challenge chat for this season.
  • Post match metaphors: Seriously Stevie, read a book or something mate. Making yourself look a bit daft.


Celtic 3, Rangers 0

The original match poster and the two club posters are by Frankie Mitchell (@madebyfrankie). You can buy a print of this and all of Frankie’s other illustrations and drawings from her online shop  – her work is also available on t-shirts, stickers and many other products.


90 Minute Cynic is a football website covering the important issues in the modern game. We follow European football with a distinct focus on the Scottish & English Premier Leagues. As part of the Hail Hail Media network, we cover Glasgow Celtic on our very popular podcast. We also seek out interesting and funny stories from all corners of the globe, bringing an analytical yet enjoyable spin on football podcasting.

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