Despite a dreadful home draw against St. Johnstone, the signings of Nat Phillips and Luis Palma should uplift the spirit in the Celtic camp ahead of locking horns with Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Moreover, their Old Firm rivals have been eliminated from the Champions League playoffs following a disastrous 5-1 defeat versus PSV, whereas the champions of Scotland are set to compete against the European elites.
Rangers, on the other hand, must bounce back to avoid further misery and take advantage of the home crowd to seal a victory. A win will see them leading the Premiership standings during the international break. However, another setback might jeopardize Michael Beale’s future, particularly after a squad overhaul throughout the transfer window.
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic Lineup To Face Rangers
While the search must continue for a long-term successor to Joe Hart, the veteran Englishman is expected to feature as the Hoops ‘number 1’ ahead of Benjamin Siegrist and Scott Bain.
The return of right fullback Alistair Johnston is a boost for Brendan Rodgers who is likely to hand him back-to-back starts over Anthony Ralston. Greg Taylor should keep his place down the left ahead of Alexandro Bernabei, but the Northern Irishman might deploy Phillips immediately as Gustaf Lagerbielke’s central defensive partner. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki are ruled out for months, also, the likes of Stephen Welsh and Yuki Kobayashi remain sidelined with their respective injury woes. It remains to be seen though whether Liam Scales is retained beyond this window.
Reo Hatate, still recovering from his fitness problem, will not be back in action before the break. David Turnbull and Matt O’Riley are tipped to operate as the ‘number 8s’, and the skipper Callum McGregor should drive the show from the deep with his experience, vision and game-reading ability. Summer signings Hyeok-Kyu Kwon and Odin Thiago Holm might get involved as second-half substitutes, and so is Tomoki Iwata, who has slipped down the pecking order since Ange Postecoglou’s exit.
A stalemate against the struggling Saints is a worrying sign for the Celts. Yet the gaffer must rely on Kyogo Furuhashi who has been exquisite with his poaching traits since plying his trade at Celtic. Liel Abada deserves a start down the right-hand flank ahead of Sead Haksabanovic, Hyun-Jun Yang, Luis Palma, Mikey Johnston and James Forrest. However, Daizen Maeda needs to be more productive from the left with Hyun-Gyu Oh and Marco Tilio still recovering from their injury concerns.