Rangers: Steven Gerrard previews Celtic clash
Rangers will probably beat Celtic 2-1 in their Old Firm showdown on Saturday afternoon, former Leeds star Noel Whelan believes. Steven Gerrard’s side are unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership this term and currently sit top of the league, 16 points clear of their rivals. And with Neil Lennon’s side struggling, Whelan has predicted a defeat.
Rangers have won 19 of their 21 league matches so far to boost their chances of ending Celtic’s dominance of the top flight.
Gerrard’s men have scored 56 goals during that time and, more impressively, shipped just five goals as well.
Celtic have dominated Scottish football over the past decade but have been inconsistent this term, managing to win 13 of their 18 league matches in comparison.
They do have three games in hand which, should they win and get the better of Rangers at the same time, would cut the Gers’ lead down to just four points.
It promises to be a fascinating showdown at Ibrox.
And Whelan is predicting Rangers to win, and thinks they’ll do it via a 2-1 scoreline.
“As a Celtic fan it’s difficult for me to say but I can only see one outcome and I think that’s a Rangers win,” Whelan told Football Insider.
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“I hate saying this – you’ve got to put Rangers down as the favourites.
“The first goal is going to be massive in it, but I just can’t, I can’t see Celtic winning the game, I really can’t.
“I don’t think it’ll be a demoralising win, I think it’ll be close, competitive, well-fought Old Firm derby that you always get but I don’t think he’s going to be a 4-0 or anything like that.
“I think it probably will be, maybe, 2-1 to Rangers but I can just see them edging it, the way they’ve been playing this season and the balance that Steven Gerrard has got in that side now, defensively and going forward, they’re ticking all the boxes.
“I just think Rangers are in a zone and a mood that they’re just so destructive to other teams at the minute and they’ve got everything right – defence midfield and that attacking line is pretty formidable.”
Former Rangers star Barry Ferguson, meanwhile, wants his old side to ‘punish’ Celtic.
In his column for the Daily Record, Ferguson wrote: “During all my time at Rangers I realised you can never write off your rivals, no matter what might be going on across the city.
“So I fully expected Lennon and his players to come back from that bad run because that’s what champions do.
“Just when they looked like they were on the canvas they have hauled themselves back on to their feet with four straight league wins.
“Trust me, they will be coming to Ibrox today looking to get themselves right back in the fight.
“That’s why it’s up to Rangers to knock them back on to the seat of their pants again. No mercy. No complacency. Just more of the punishment they dished out at Celtic Park back in October when, for the third successive derby, they played them off the pitch.
“If these Rangers players allow themselves to think the hard work has been done already, they’re kidding themselves. Celtic will not just go away.
“It’s up to Rangers to do as much damage as they can every time they get the chance. And today is the perfect moment to put another dent in them.
“What Gerrard and his men can’t afford to do is go into this one thinking they’re in a comfy position at the top of the table with a 16-point lead.
“It would be a major mistake if they allow themselves to think that a point might be a good enough result. If they take their foot off Celtic’s throat now they could end up regretting it forever.
“Now is not the time to give them any encouragement. Now is the time to land another huge blow and then ask them if they have enough fight left in their bellies to get back up off the floor once again.
“Forget about the 16 points. Assume that Celtic will win all three of their games in hand and remember that a lead of seven points is nothing over the course of a campaign.
“Make sure it’s 10 points before the end of today and let’s see how they respond.
“It would be a huge test of Celtic’s resolve if they were to start the new year knowing they could win all three of those spare games and still end up needing snookers to win the title.”
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