29 December 2019 10:43
Sign up to FREE daily email alerts from dailyrecord - Sport Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Could not subscribe, try again later Invalid Email The form book goes out the window in derby matches. It's about the team that wants it more, the one that wins the 50/50s, takes the ball and the man, blah, blah, blah. Utter guff. Forget all the cliched claptrap about the Old Firm showdown. Today isn't about who rolls up the sleeves and gets stuck in.
We're about to witness the most tactical Glasgow derby ever. Today won't be won or lost because of a Braveheart speech in the dressing room before kick-off. It won't come down to the 22 players going hell for leather. This is about the two men in the dugouts. Neil Lennon against Steven Gerrard. And it's going to be fascinating. Gerrard has a major headache. Rangers were superb at Hampden a few weeks ago. His side tortured Celtic. The fact Lennon walked away with the League Cup up his juke was a total heist. It would be easy to suggest Gers play the same way at Parkhead today and there's every chance they'll pocket three points. Forget it. If Rangers play the way they played in the cup final they will get destroyed today. Gerrard knows it as well. That's what makes it so intriguing. The game plan that worked so well the last time will be a suicide note this time. Gerrard nailed it last time. He played narrow, flooded the midfield and Callum McGregor was key. Everyone thinks it's Scott Brown who needs nullifying but Gerrard realised it's not the captain who makes Celtic tick. It's McGregor who is the link man from defence to attack and when Scott Arfield or Joe Aribo got in his face it forced Celtic up blind alleys. (Image: SNS Group) Rangers could try it again but with Odsonne Edouard back the high-pressing game will leave them wide open on the counter. If Gerrard rolls out the same ploy, Celtic will be sticking the bibs on and getting tore in like it's a New Year's Day steak pie. This is a big test for the Ibrox gaffer. He made a meal of it at Hampden after the red card. By chucking on Jermain Defoe, he actually cost his side the game. They gave up the midfield they'd owned all day and barely created a sniff against the 10 men. It was similar in the first game at Ibrox. Gerrard wanted to control the engine room but Celtic by-passed it. Edouard drops in, holds the ball up and gets the Hoops attack turning and running at defenders. Rangers got a doing and it could happen today if they are not careful. They know how Celtic will play. But it's another thing coping with it. (Image: Daily Record) The Celtic boss might come across as old school but he's a craftsman in the big games He did a job on Lazio twice and will be licking his lips at the prospect of doing a number on Gers again. Gerrard could be forgiven for sending his men out and letting them do what they've being doing. But it would be folly. Rangers need to do something different and that's what will have kept Gerrard up late last night. Celtic want to win but Rangers need to win. A draw wouldn't hurt either but a Rangers defeat would be a disaster. An eight-point gap going into the winter break would be soul- destroying given how good the Ibrox side have been. A Gers win and it's game on. Get ready for a different kind of battle.