Rangers FC, the Glasgow giants, returned to the top tier of Scottish football last season following four years of absence and have now shaken off the darkest years to restore their glorious realm. The Gers, in the meantime, have fallen behind by miles compared to their age-old rivals Celtic FC who are now closing on clinching their seventh consecutive Premiership glory in a pretty one-sided title race. Rangers have recovered sensationally under Graeme Murty who was handed the managerial responsibility following Pedro Caixinha’s dismissal and their current six-game winning streak offers hope and promises to draw an end to Celtic’s sheer dominance when these two bitter rivals will lock horns on Sunday afternoon at Ibrox in the prestigious Old Firm derby.
Their previous league meeting ended scorelessly at Celtic Park where the Light Blues’ lion-hearted display earned massive applauds from the visiting crowd. Although they are not on a par with Celtic FC in terms of quality as well as experience, Rangers’ winter signings have done them a huge favour to recover the lost ground to some extent. The majority of Caixinha’s signings failed miserably at Ibrox but the arrivals of Sean Goss, Jamie Murphy and Russell Martin have enhanced their quality as well as ability to compete versus the league leaders. The fans can demand a close contest on this occasion as Rangers are rightly on track to close the gaps and reignite the title challenge from the next season onwards.
Murty has rediscovered success in recent months and the 4-2-3-1 setup is working fine in the implementation of his strategic moves. The gaffer is expected to retain the same and line the Gers up in a similar pattern against the mighty rivals.
The Light Blues have a pretty consistent figure between the sticks in form of Wes Foderingham and the custodian will be protecting the goal against their Sunday counterparts.
Rangers have a few injury concerns, particularly left-back Declan John who missed out a few games due to a groin strain. He, however, is back in training and likely to be fit for the weekend encounter. James Tavernier will feature in his usual right-back role whereas there might be a selection dilemma while choosing the central defensive partner of Russell Martin. Young David Bates has done justice so far but the experience of veteran Bruno Alves might give him a nod in this epic derby outing.
Sean Goss, the QPR loanee, has been a revelation in Rangers midfield and is set to orchestrate the game from a central midfield role. Greg Docherty, the winter signing from Hamilton Academical, has done a decent job so far in absence of Graham Dorrans, Ryan Jack and Ross McCrorie. Murty, however, might prefer more experienced Jason Holt in the middle of the park who might regain a starting role in the Old Firm derby.
Daniel Candeias is set to retain his right midfield slot whereas in-form Jamie Murphy is likely to return from his injury and occupy the left midfield role. Josh Windass has been shifted to the ‘number 10’ slot from the wide attacking role but has managed to maintain his scintillating run of form and is likely to trouble the Hoops backline on Sunday afternoon.
Alfredo Morelos, the young Colombian, will start as the lone striker but is going to get persistent support from Murphy, Candeias and Windass who will stride forward and cut inside to operate in advanced areas.
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