Rangers hoping for a 'Lucky' break
Pedro Caixinha likened Rangers to a wounded animal this week. He meant the simile to be a signal of defiance after his players were dismissed from the Scottish Cup by Celtic last Sunday, but his choice of imagery suggests a less palatable conclusion for the Ibrox faithful.
As matters stand, Rangers are more like the subject of the celebrated 'Have You Seen' poster which appealed for sightings of a dog 'with three legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, broken tail, recently castrated - answers to name of Lucky'.
In five meetings with Celtic this season, Rangers have been dumped from both cups and have conceded 11 goals while scoring only three.
If the champions win again on the other side of Glasgow, the gulf between the sides will be 36 points. Another intriguing factor is that neither Mark Warburton nor Pedro Caixinha have been able to inflict damage on Celtic, but Graeme Murty - as caretaker - got Rangers' single point from these meetings, in the 1-1 draw at Parkhead.
Murty's achievement came from keeping Rangers' midfield and defensive ranks in touch with each other, while covering Celtic's full- backs at goal kicks and narrowing the angles for Dedryck Boyata's clearances.
In contrast, Caixinha's players rarely got tight on their opponents to disrupt their rhythm.
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers even presented Caixinha with some tactical advice this week.
"It is their home game and they will look to maybe press the game a little bit more but, if they do, then it can be even better for us," the former Liverpool boss said.
"It will open up the space behind the pressing line - a big space - and we have got speed in our team, but we will prepare as we normally do for a tough game. We played very, very well on Sunday."
Celtic will be without Moussa Dembele, whose season has been ended by hamstring injury. Rangers must do without the suspended James Tavernier for an occasion in which another comprehensive defeat will have their fans baying - though not for Lucky's sake. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Rangers v Celtic, Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.0