Thursday, February 25, 2010
Old Firm rivals Rangers and Celtic meet for the third time this season on Sunday at Ibrox Stadium in what could be the pivotal moment in this year's Scottish Premier League title chase.
Americans DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu are healthy and will be at the disposal of Rangers head coach Walter Smith in this latest installment between the Glasgow clubs.
While Edu will likely be an option coming off the bench in the second half for the Light Blues, it would not be surprising to see Smith tab Beasley in his starting 11 in light of the winger's start two weeks ago versus Hibernian.
Both players also took part in a midweek reserve league match that saw Rangers cruise to a 3-0 victory over the Falkirk reserves.
The match comes at a critical time for Sunday's hosts who boast a seven point lead over their bitter crosstown rivals. Rangers' match last week versus St. Johnstone was postponed due to a frozen field thus giving Smith's squad a game in hand heading into battle this weekend.
A win over the Hoops would all but seal another Rangers SPL title giving them a ten point lead with just 11 matches remaining in the season.
To boot, the Light Blues have managed to accrue points in every match this season outside of a listless 1-0 defeat at Aberdeen back on November 28th.
Despite all the positives, there remains plenty to be concerned about for Smith who will have to account for a Celtic squad that now includes striker Robbie Keane in its arsenal.
The on-loan forward from Tottenham made his presence felt last week scoring the lone goal in Celtic's 1-0 win over Hearts.
Sunday's visitors will also be out to gain some semblence of revenge after the teams' last meeting when Rangers managed to snatch a point at Celtic Park with a late goal in a match that saw the Hoops dominate play.
Rangers are also likely to be missing their starting goalkeeper Allan McGregor for the contest after he was assaulted earlier this week outside of a Glasgow bar. Smith will have to call on backup Neil Alexander who has factored in just a handful of matches this season.
Outside of McGregor's absence, Rangers will have a full squad while Celtic head man Tony Mowbry will be missing Glenn Loovens and Jos Hooiveld with hamstring injuries and Shaun Maloney with a heel injury.