Rangers face their Old Firm rivals away from home on Sunday and, if Steven Gerrard wants to preserve the Ibrox outfit’s current unbeaten Premiership status, he should restore Filip Helander to his starting eleven.
The Swedish international was surprisingly dropped for Rangers’ 2-0 defeat against Slavia Prague in the Europa League in midweek and, after Leon Balogun’s disappointing display, Gerrard should revert to a partnership of Connor Goldson and Helander in central defence.
The former Liverpool captain may well be forced into taking action following the news that Nathan Patterson picked up a knock in midweek, meaning Balogun could move to right-back for Sunday’s game, allowing Helander to come back in.
Nikola Katic is still sidelined through injury, whilst Jack Simpson is unlikely to be handed his first start in a game of this importance, so it seems very likely that the 27-year-old Swede will be the man selected alongside Goldson in defence.
In 20 Premiership appearances this season, the former Bologna ace – who reportedly earns £10,000 per week at Rangers – has averaged an impressive 7.13 WhoScored average match rating, so has clearly been a big part of their title success.
The Gers’ impressive season has been built on a strong defence, with Gerrard’s side having conceded just nine goals in their 32 Premiership games so far this term, with the likes of James Tavernier, Goldson, Borna Barisic and Helander all rated in their top seven performers in the league by WhoScored.
Helander’s impressive form for Rangers since signing has earned him a recall to the Swedish national team, with manager Janne Andersson full of praise for him earlier in the season, saying:
“He’s a reliable defender with a great sense of where to place himself on the pitch. Filip’s also a very tough player who won’t bow down.”
Now that they are out of the Europa League, Rangers’ focus should be on trying to finish the season unbeaten, a feat which was last completed by their rivals in 2016/17; and Sunday’s fixture is arguably the biggest challenge they will face in their hopes of attaining invincible status at the end of the campaign.
Therefore, Gerrard should go with his best partnership in defence for the game on Sunday, and that means unleashing Helander alongside Goldson after his surprise exclusion in midweek.