Rangers are the ones who have put that marker down

Evening Times - - THE LAST WORD -

pat­terns in that Rangers started the games well, Celtic strug­gled to get go­ing, and with Rangers win­ning the mid­field bat­tle they stopped the ser­vice get­ting to Celtic’s at­tack­ers.

If you go through the teams, the goal­keep­ers are as vi­tally im­por­tant to both sides. At the back though, Rangers looked more solid than Celtic did in the last game, and in mid­field, which is the most im­por­tant area for me, Scott Brown and Cal­lum McGre­gor were edged out of it be­cause they were out­num­bered.

There was con­se­quently no threat from Celtic up front, and even when the ball did get to the wingers or Od­sonne Edouard, they were un­usu­ally hes­i­tant.

On the other side, Al­fredo More­los can be a huge pain in the back­side – I mean that as a com­pli­ment – and he was caus­ing all sorts of prob­lems. There is a good player in there when he chan­nels it in the right way, which he doesn’t al­ways do.

He cer­tainly caused a bit of un­cer­tainty be­tween Kristof­fer Ajer and Christo­pher Jul­lien, and Rangers looked the more threat­en­ing side through­out.

Over the piece, you would have to say Steven Ger­rard’s side looked the more bal­anced team too, and they were sharper all over the park.

From Celtic’s point of view, they have to find a way to get their mid­field back on top in th­ese games. Rangers don’t make it easy for Celtic’s mid­field in th­ese games now, and there lies the crux of the prob­lem.

Celtic have to meet that chal­lenge. Rangers have set out their stall to close down the Celtic mid­field and stop Brown and McGre­gor play­ing, and Neil Len­non has to find a way to help them in­flu­ence the games more once again.

Those two played

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It is easy to say that in hind­sight, but in Old Firm games it tends to be the win­ner of the mid­field bat­tle that wins the game, and that is what hap­pened last Sun­day.

You just have to look back to when Celtic won against Rangers in March and ear­lier this sea­son at Ibrox, Brown dom­i­nated the mid­field.

I don’t buy the the­ory the Celtic play­ers were tired. McGre­gor was prob­a­bly their liveli­est player on the day, and he has played more than any­one.

Where they do need to pro­vide a lit­tle help is up front, be­cause not only does Edouard need a breather, there needs to be an al­ter­na­tive op­tion when things aren’t go­ing so well too.

I know the club have been linked with An­draz Spo­rar, and they cer­tainly do

need some­one re­li­able to

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Over­all, there is no get­ting away from the fact Celtic have been sec­ond best in most de­part­ments over the last two Rangers fix­tures.

What hap­pens in foot­ball as a man­ager is that when you get a re­sult, you are tac­ti­cally as­tute, and when you don’t, you have sud­denly been out­thought. I don’t mean that to sound flip­pant, but the fact is Celtic are 10 points bet­ter off at this point than they were last sea­son.

That shows Len­non is do­ing some­thing right, as well as be­ing an in­di­ca­tion of how well Rangers have done to keep pace with Celtic.

He will of course be con­tem­plat­ing his ap­proach against Rangers, but I have al­ways be­lieved Len­non to be un­der­rated in terms of his tac­ti­cal knowl­edge, and I have no doubt he will have a plan to counter Rangers bet­ter in the next two games.

He will have to, be­cause who­ever comes out on top in those will be very likely to win the league.

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Celtic’s mid­field strug­gled to make an im­pact against Rangers

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