Pundit Michael Stewart has delivered his pre-derby Celtic vs Rangers verdict, writing in his Scottish Sun column today.
The former Hearts and Hibs player has been a pundit on Celtic TV recently, for the club’s Pass To Paradise service, and has seen a fair bit of Rangers too in the early stages of the season.
Despite not exactly being known as the most pro-Ibrox pundit around, Stewart actually sees a lot of positives for Steven Gerrard’s team heading into today’s fixture.
He reckons the way they are set up could cause Celtic problems and that the lack of crowd could favour the away team more.
However, he does note that Neil Lennon may have switched to a 3-5-2 formation this season specifically to counteract the perennial runners-up and find holes to exploit in their team.
Writing in The Scottish Sun, Stewart explains: “The thing with this Gers team right now is you know what you’re going to get. There are pros and cons to that, the pros being they have a style they are comfortable with.
“They set up narrow with two inverted No 10s and a deep-lying midfielder. That allows the three-man midfield to pivot and rotate depending on where the ball is.
“That means they can block off supply to the wide players and force everything infield. And that makes it very difficult for Celtic — or most teams — to make any headway against them.
“The cons are such a rigid system allows people to study it and pick holes in it. And I think that is what has prompted Lennon’s switch to a back three in recent times.”
Stewart’s assessment of the way Rangers play will tie in with a lot of supporters’ verdict too.
Utilising players such as Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield, the away side will certainly be busy trying to overload the central areas in Celtic’s half.
However, they are not an unknown quantity anymore and after several closely-contested derbies last season, hopefully, Lennon and his team have masterminded a way to pick them apart.
As Stewart notes, it’s not like they have shown much tactical flexibility of late.
There’s no doubt that the December defeat was a bruising blow to Scott Brown the rest of the Celtic squad.
Although we went on to win the title, today is another opportunity to show why we are the best team in the country.
Lessons need to have been learned from the last derby and put right today. No excuses.