Saturday, October 23, 2010

Celtic v Rangers Preview

Eight games each, eight wins each. Nobody else is coming between Celtic and Rangers so it’s left to them to sort out the little local matter that is the Scottish championship. Us mere mortals can only watch with wonder as the Glasgow Premier League title is decided over the course of four Old Firm games.

Of course it might not work out like that. But that’s how it feels just now.

People like to say Old Firm games are never meaningless. They can be for the neutral observer but tomorrow offers the chance for someone to edge clear in the race for the SPL. No wars will be won but the battle provides the opportunity for a psychological victory.

It must be tiring being a certain type of Old Firm fan. There can be little time for sleep given the devotion to checking for opponents under the bed. Makes Joseph McCarthy look unenthusiastic about finding the enemy within.

Today I’ve read on a Celtic blog a scathing attack on The Scotsman for mentioning - in context - that today’s referee Willie Collum is a Religious Education teacher. I’ve read a Rangers blog attacking the video clips that Reporting Scotland used on their preview on Friday night. Tiresome.

But cut away the layers of nonsense and paranoia and we’re left with the intriguing prospect of a football match between two sides who just keep winning. Admittedly they might not be vintage teams for either club but when two 100% records come up against each other we might be entitled to expect something interesting to watch.

Such prospects have a nagging habit of disappointing and the thought lurks at the back of the mind that Celtic and Rangers could cancel each other out.

Rangers ability to shut up shop and play with a certain stubborness and caginess is by now well established while Neil Lennon has sought to bring back Celtic’s renown for expansive football.

Yet the script might not be as simple as that. Rangers caginess has seen them score 22 goals to Celtic’s 18 this season. Celtic’s attacking has seen them concede four goals to Rangers’ seven.

Despite that we can expect Rangers to employ their more “European” style and carry, through Wiess, Miller and Naismith (if they are selected), a threat on the counter. Celtic will be tasked with breaking them down and staying alert to the counter.

The result should be enough to keep even this cynical neutral engaged, we might even have some entertainment.

And, I suspect, that both teams will relinquish their 100% record.

Draw.

The Celtic view and the Rangers view over on Left Back In The Changing Room.