After defeat in Europe, Rangers need to bounce back rather quickly.
Punished By PSV
Celtic may be top of the Scottish Premiership, but they are certainly missing the swagger of last season.
A Sluggish Start
The international break may be lurking around the corner, but there is still plenty of time to sneak in the first Old Firm derby of the season. Then again, this is not a fixture that is merely snuck in, this is a date that everybody has known about for quite some time.
Of course, this opening salvo between Rangers and Celtic is not going to define who wins the latest edition of the Scottish Premiership, but it will certainly offer some much-needed bragging rights if there is a winner.
Especially when you consider the starts that either side have had to their respective campaigns. Celtic sitting top of the table is nothing new – exit out of the League Cup and dropped points in the league has been something of a rude awakening for the returning Brendan Rodgers.
Like Rangers on the opening weekend of the season, Celtic have also suffered defeat to Kilmarnock. The blue half of Glasgow lost at Rugby Park and started week one without any points. The green and white half recently lost their grip on the League Cup that was won last season.
Not only that, but the Hoops failed to jump over the defensive barrier that was put in place by St Johnstone last weekend. A goalless draw at Celtic Park for manager Rodgers to mull over and the natives are starting to get the tiniest bit restless.
As for Sunday’s hosts Rangers, it looked as if their opening day aberration in Ayrshire was long since behind them. That was until they entered Eindhoven with Champions League dreams and exited with a European nightmare.
A 2-2 draw at Ibrox gave Michael Beale’s men work to do at the Philips Stadion – work that a large bulk of the team had completed in the same circumstances just 12 months ago. This time, it was a task that proved to be far too difficult.
After the game manager Beale said that the Champions League qualifier came too early for them. Unfortunately, that is the by-product of not winning last season’s Scottish Premiership and they can only look at Celtic’s group stage draw with envy.
A draw that is not the best, but it is certainly not the worst, if last season’s domestic treble winners can earn some form of European football for the second half of the campaign, then that will be considered as a successful foray on the continent.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips. First up, I am going to back James Tavernier to score anytime. He scored from open play in midweek, he is even more deadly from a set piece and 3/1 for the defender to find the net looks an absolute steal.
At the same time, I think Celtic are going to steal the win on Sunday. There may be nothing in the shape of away support, but I think Rangers’ loss in the Netherlands will still be too raw and the correct score will be 2-1 to the visitors at odds of 10/1.