Celtic have hit form at just the right time ahead of their big game against their city rivals today, and will be optimistic in search of three valuable points to reduce the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.
Neil Lennon’s charges go into the Rangers clash having won their last four league games in a row, keeping clean sheets in each of those, while their last six games in all competitions include the Scottish Cup win and a 3-2 triumph over Lille in the Europa League.
Victory at Ibrox today would narrow the gap down to 13 points and, given Celtic have three games in hand, the stage could be set to whittle the gap down massively, subsequently putting extreme pressure on Steven Gerrard’s side.
So, who could Lennon pick in the starting XI for the big game?
One major dilemma in the Celtic back line comes in the shape of Christopher Jullien’s potential unavailability, the Frenchman a doubt after his collision with a post in the win over Dundee United.
We predict Lennon will replace the £7million man with Nir Bitton, who’d line up alongside Kristoffer Ajer in central defence.
Jeremie Frimpong is likely to start on the right, while Greg Taylor’s improved form should see him return to the XI ahead of Diego Laxalt, who didn’t have a great game last time out.
Another player who has done superbly in recent weeks is Ismaila Soro, and while Lennon might be tempted to start Scott Brown, a constant thorn in Rangers’ side over the years, the 22-year-old Ivorian really should get the nod on merit.
It would be an extremely bold call from the Celtic manager to drop a player who has played such an important role for the Hoops over the years, not least in derbies, but Soro doesn’t deserve to drop out.
Ryan Christie, David Turnbull and Callum McGregor should also keep their places from their 3-0 win at Parkhead last time out, while up front, Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard are likely to be selected, as was the case in midweek.