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Old Firm Derby - Can Rangers hold firm against Celtic?

Friday 22nd September 2017
It's that time of year again in Scotland where their two biggest clubs lock horns in the Scottish Premiership. It's the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox on Saturday and the Gers will be looking to get one over their bitter rivals for the first time in five and a half years in the league.

So, what chance have Rangers got against a Celtic side seemingly impossible to stop and who could make the difference for both sides?

Celtic's form since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2016 has been emphatic and, domestically, almost perfect. They are unbeaten in 55 games in all domestic competitions with the only coffee blot on their record being the heavy Champions League defeats to some of Europe's best teams. Rangers are one of the few Scottish teams to take points off the Hoops after a draw at Celtic Park in March of this year. Clint Hill scored a last-gasp equaliser to halt Celtic's 17 match winning run but it was merely a small bump in the road to the title for the team in green and white.

We'll go back to 2012 when Rangers last beat Celtic in the league in a thrilling match that ended 3-2 to the Gers with goals from Sone Aluko, Andrew Little and Lee Wallace. Scott Brown and Thomas Rogne pulled two late goals back for Celtic but the game will be remembered because of the cards that were dished out. Now at Spurs, Victor Wanyama was sent off for Celtic but that wasn't before his Korean teammate, Cha Du-Ri was also given a straight red with his side already behind. Former USA international, Carlos Bocanegra, was sent off for Rangers late on which sparked the late comeback from Celtic but it was all in vain. Other players that featured at Ibrox that day include current Southampton captain and goalkeeper respectively, Steven Davis and Fraser Forster – on opposite sides back then.

Nowadays the sides look very different with only Lee Wallace and Scott Brown still at their respective clubs. Wallace is now surrounded by a host of Portuguese players as part of Pedro Caixinha's recruitment drive but it's a Colombian who's really hit the ground running as a Rangers player. Alfredo Morelos was signed from Finnish side HJK after enjoying two prolific seasons in the Veikkausliiga and he's continued that impressive form with his new team. Morelos has six goals in as many games for Rangers this season so Celtic will have to be well aware of the 21-year-old going into Saturday's game. Graham Dorrans is back in his home country after a decent career in England and is proving a big hit with the Rangers fans. The former Norwich and West Brom midfielder already has 3 goals in the Scottish Premiership and will be looking to put one over his club's rivals.
But Dorrans will have to deal with the ever-present Celtic captain, Scott Brown, in midfield but and Brown has a reputation for being the tough guy. He's got 6 red cards to his name during his career and that could easily rise to 7 by full time on Saturday. Moussa Dembele is fully fit again and struck his first goal of the season last week in the demolition of Ross County. The Frenchman has a brilliant record against the Gers – he's bagged 5 goals in just one season against them, including a hattrick at Celtic Park around 12 months ago. Someone to look out for off the pitch is Kolo Toure – he's been added to Brendan Rodgers' backroom staff so he'll be used to watching from the dugout.

The Old Firm Derby is one of the feistiest and fiery games in the world of football so look out for flying tackles, dramatic flare-ups and maybe even a Rangers win.
Billy Munday

I'm a young, aspiring sports journalist and also a Chelsea fan, living the dream in London. You can find more examples of my work on Chelsea blogs such as the Chelsea Chronicle.

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