Celtic have had something of a tumultuous summer, but Sunday’s match against Rangers gives them the chance to put it all behind them and start with a clean slate this season.
The Hoops can’t seem to be able to catch a break of late. Even in the wake of Thursday night’s positive UEFA Europa League victory over FK Suduva a new transfer scandal involving the liberally tweeting Moussa Dembele emerged.
Most fans would admit there has been a cloud over Celtic Park for a number of weeks now, from players refusing to play for the club, to Brendan Rodgers filleting the board in press conferences, to the failure of reaching the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in three years.
Such is life in Glasgow though, almost none of that will matter if Celtic handily beat their city rivals Rangers on Sunday.
It’s arguably the biggest derby for years given the way Steven Gerrard has energised the Ibrox outfit and got them playing good enough football to be undefeated so far this season, at home and abroad.
Despite the reversal in momentum, there’s little argument against the suggestion that the Hoops will raise their game again this Sunday and remind everyone that there’s plenty of life in Rodgers’ team yet.
Since the former Liverpool boss arrived in Glasgow he has been unbeaten in the fixture, often picking up monster results that have delighted Celtic fans as much as they’ve humiliated Rangers fans.
Typically when Celtic have had to, they’ve added levels to their game when the expectation is they have to win. The only time they haven’t done that in recent memory was against AEK Athens this summer.
Gerrard’s side will be more organised and arguably more committed than any of the Rangers sides that Rodgers’ men have faced so far, but even in the encounters between the sides that have be closely contested Celtic have found the mentality to get the job done somehow.
Like against Mark Warburton’s much-hyped side and Pedro Caixinha’s much-hyped side, the Hoops have the chance to burst another bubble and remind everyone that the most likely scenario in the Scottish Premiership this season is Celtic domination.
That’s not to say that Celtic won’t have to counter specific threats. The capture of Borna Barisic on the left flank looks to be an inspired bit of business and he’s shown already that he has the quality of delivery from the wing to cause a shaky Celtic defence all sorts of problems.
The return of Kyle Lafferty presents one of those potential derby storylines that cannot be denied and his record against the Hoops recently is incredible. Then there’s negotiating the partnership of Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic, two players who have transformed the way Rangers defend.
It’s definitely not going to be easy, but given what’s at stake and that a win would then give Celtic the platform to do excellent things in the coming weeks and months, it’s hard to see Brendan Rodgers let this one slip through his fingers.
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