Rangers are the ones who have put that marker down
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