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5 talking points ahead of the first Old Firm derby of the season
Rangers and Celtic meet at Ibrox on Sunday.
Rangers host Celtic in Sunday’s opening Old Firm derby of the new season.
Both sides go into the Ibrox clash with a perfect record of three wins from three, while both secured safe passage to the Europa League group stages on Thursday night.
Here PA’s Andy Newport takes a look at the big talking points ahead of the derby showdown.
The money is on Rangers, for a change
For the first time since 2011, the Light Blues go in to a derby battle against their old foes as slight favourites. Both sides have started the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with three straight wins and will have European football to keep them busy up to Christmas after clinching their group stage slots. Celtic have been free-scoring but the Gers defence has been watertight so far this season, leaving it almost too close to call with home advantage the main reason why some bookmakers are favouring Steven Gerrard’s team.
Celtic’s defensive worries clear
There were fears the Hoops might have to make the trip across Glasgow with a makeshift rearguard after Kristoffer Ajer suffered a groin injury during Thursday’s win in Stockholm. With Jozo Simunovic also struggling for fitness, Neil Lennon might have been faced with fielding derby debutants Boli Bolingoli, Moritz Bauer and Christopher Jullien alongside midfielder Nir Bitton at the back. But Lennon is confident Ajer and Simunovic will pull through and provide some much-needed experience.
Alfredo Morelos needs to keep his cool
The Colombian underlined his importance to Rangers again on Thursday night as his last-minute winner saw off Legia Warsaw to see Gers qualify for the Europa League for the second year in succession. It was his 10th goal in 11 games this season, yet the 23-year-old’s record against Celtic is nowhere near as sharp – he has drawn a total blank in his nine derby run-outs so far. He was fined by Gerrard after getting sent-off for a stupid swipe out at Scott Brown at Parkhead in March but his manager insists the striker is maturing. He needs to prove it on Sunday.