2 mins: Laxalt’s first involvement as a Celtic player is to give away a dangerous free-kick on the right flank. Tavernier swings it into the box and Celtic – after a bit of panic – manager to send it clear.
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
Some things we definitely do not want to see today …
As a child I went to see Rangers lose to AEK Athens in the Champions League. I can’t remember much about it but someone drove me from Glasgow to Manchester in a Land Rover.
How will Celtic attempt to wind up Morelos without the crowd adding to the ire against the striker? I reckon there will be some sneaky fouls put it on the Rangers man to just test his nerve.
Gerrard says the performance is not important today, as long as the result is the right one.
Things will be a touch quieter today …
Lennon says he is “very excited’ about the game. The Celtic boss adds that his new signings have integrated well into the squad.
Welsh has never let Celtic down when he has been used by Lennon, the manager says. Big day for the lad.
Laxalt is making his Celtic debut today after arriving from Milan. He has not played a competitive game since July, so it is a tough ask for him to start his Scottish Premiership career against their biggest rivals.
Ianis Hagi is a decent player to have on the bench, as he has the ability to open up tired defences later on in the fixture. Although, being able to make five subs might counteract that slightly.
Gerrard has given Brandon Barker the nod today, hoping his dribbling might worry a the Celtic backline. There could be plenty of space for him to utilise on that flank, I feel.
Celtic defender Stephen Welsh is making only his second first-team appearance for the club. He started in a win over Hamilton last season following a loan spell with Greenock Morton but this will be his first Old Firm derby.
A longer explanation why you are probably disappointed you did not make the Celtic squad today.
Celtic: Barkas, Frimpong, Welsh, Ajer, Duffy, Laxalt, Brown, McGregor, Ntcham, Elyounoussi, Klimala
Subs: Bain, Taylor, Griffiths, Ajeti, Soro, Turnbull, Rogic, Henderson, Ralston
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Kamara, Davis, Arfield, Barker, Kent, Morelos
Subs: McLaughlin, Bassey, Balogun, Jack, Jones, Hagi, Aribo, Itten, Defoe
It seems an age since Scottish football’s two fiercest rivals faced each other, but it is only 10 months. However, that is a long time for two teams who are used to playing each other so regularly.
The good news is that Rangers are once again giving the early impression that they might be up for a title challenge, currently topping the league, although Celtic do have a game in hand. Steven Gerrard’s side also knocked Turkish giants Galatasaray out of the Europa League so they mean business. A front free of Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Ianis Hagi is enough to scare most oppositions, although the Romanian only makes the bench today.
Celtic have endured a difficult buildup to this match caused by a number of their players testing positive for Covid-19, meaning a weakened squad available to Neil Lennon. As is traditional, Celtic are, like their rivals, unbeaten in the league thus far and will be aiming to keep their record considering they are the home team but this is certainly the strongest Rangers side they will have come up against in recent memory.
It will be a mildly surreal experience to see the Old Firm take place without fans, however used we are now to such a scenario. Will that impact the renowned ferocity on the pitch? We will have to wait and see.
Here is to a good game!