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Old Firm derby: Win or bust for Rangers against Premiership

 
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MessagePosté le: Dim 11 Mar - 08:23 (2018)    Sujet du message: Old Firm derby: Win or bust for Rangers against Premiership Répondre en citant

 

 
sb0bet Is Sunday's Old Firm derby a must-win for Rangers in their pursuit of Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic? Charles Paterson previews the crucial encounter, which is live on Sky Sports Football.


An audible cheer rang out from the home dressing room at Ibrox on Sunday evening, a few seconds after Rangers were drawn out of the pot to face Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals. When manager Graeme Murty, sitting in the Sky Sports studio at the time, was informed of this reaction, a rueful grin spread across his face.


While he might have privately hoped to avoid such a draw, Murty has acknowledged that his players' enthusiastic response signifies a change in attitude and belief amongst the Rangers squad.


That semi-final takes place at Hampden Park next month; before then, Rangers and Celtic meet this Sunday at Ibrox in the third Old Firm league fixture of the season - live on Sky Sports Football. The stakes are high - a win for the home side will reduce the gap between the sides to three points, but victory for Brendan Rodgers' champions, who have a game in hand, would effectively seal a seventh successive league title.


For the first time since Rodgers arrived in Glasgow, Rangers are matching Celtic for form heading into a derby. Since the sides drew at Celtic Park shortly before New Year, Murty's men have won nine of 10 games, while Celtic have won eight of 11 (including a Europa defeat to Zenit St Petersburg). In that time, Rangers have scored 33 goals, and conceded nine; Celtic have scored 20, and conceded eight. Statistics barely separate them; what may decide Sunday's clash is confidence, momentum and big-game experience. sb0bet


Rangers' players appear to be brimming with self-belief, playing with a positive intent that's reaping rewards in the results that follow. January's recruitment drive has bolstered Murty's options, while providing a shot in the arm for those players already in situ. Jamie Murphy, Russell Martin, Jason Cummings and Sean Goss have all made an impact since arriving in the transfer window, while the form of James Tavernier, David Bates and Josh Windass has picked up significantly. Windass, in particular, is in the best goal-scoring form of his career - 10 goals in eight matches, including two hat-tricks, mark him as a vital player for Rangers on Sunday.


By contrast Celtic have, at times, given off a perception of a team doing just enough to keep their domestic rivals at arm's length. Having set an extraordinary standard last season in terms of performance and results, there have only been flickers of that this time around. Injuries have blighted the squad across the team. Many of last year's outstanding performers, including Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele, have not shone as brightly as they did a year ago, although Dembele appears to be returning to form. January's two big signings, Charly Musonda and Marvin Compper, have struggled for game-time. And yet - Celtic remain on course for a second successive treble.


The debate this week is whether Celtic have stagnated, or if Rangers have improved, to the extent that the gap between the two sides has closed, and whether that will impact on Sunday's result. For the first time for what seems an age prior to an Old Firm league game, Celtic appear to be looking over their shoulders. sb0bet
 


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