Time for the talking to stop - Old Firm preview
'It could be 4 points, it could be 1 point' said Tony the Fourth,
'The pressure is all on Rangers' said Keane
'42,000 fans will all be my pals' said Rogne (Who? Exactly)
The disrespect and attempted mind games only succeeded in winding this Bear up and hopefully fired up our players, I hope Walter has simply stuck the comments up on the dressing room board. I have been chomping at the bit all week for this moment and I am as 'up' for this game as any I can remember. We are in the driving seat and this presents the ultimate opportunity, victory and the title will be in touching distance. A chance to kill off our fiercest rivals while regaining our 10 point advantage, oh yes, that prospect has got me excited. Not only that, but an opportunity to shut them up once and for all would be fabulous, I have had to put up with it for weeks and it is becoming tiresome. Incidentally every time they make comments it comes back to haunt them, so lets hope this is no different today!
We head in to the game in good shape, actually excellent shape all things considered. At time of writing this piece, everyone is fit and healthy (doubts surrounding McGregor granted), we are seven points clear with a game in hand AND a vastly superior goal difference, the game is at Ibrox and we have Walter Smith. The jewell in the crown for me is indeed the management, the players will have had it drummed into them all week just how big this game is. They know exactly how to win these games and what it takes, as has been proved time and time again. We will be solid, well set out and as meticulous as ever, which come kick off will be vital.
For our visitors, we should not be naïve enough to think this will be a walk over. They have some good attacking prospects in Keane and Kamara who we will have to keep an eye on. But these players are no more dangerous than any we have faced recently, Keane is a good player but is he really that much more of a threat that MacDonald? No I certainly don't think so, in fact I am extremely pleased to see the back of that player. Kamara is a good player also and will provide our full backs with a stern test with his direct running, but again I am confident we have enough to handle his threat. The real weakness lies with a back four which has struggled all season long, I have no idea how that defence will look but whatever way we should look to attack it straight away. They will be nervous and shaky, I would openly encourage us to throw the ball in the box wherever possible, as recent results have proved their defence just can't cope. Behind them they have a goalkeeper whom is always prone to a disaster against us, in short I believe their whole defensive unit is there to be taken advantage of. They have to win this game and I believe will come at us full tilt which will play right into Walter's hands.
I expect Rangers to line up with a solid 4-4-2 formation. The Whittaker or Broadfoot right back conundrum throws up many an argument and is one position which is not set in stone. Whittaker at left midfield may be an option but with DM Beasley back to fitness he also comes into contention. These are the only two positions I think are up for grabs with us. At time of writing the Goalkeeping situation is also up in the air granted, but that will take care of itself and is perhaps a discussion for another topic. I can be confident whoever is in nets will offer us the same level of consistency and ability we have been used to now for Walters tenure.
Kris Boyd becomes my key man along with Kenny Miller and my hopes are pinned on these two to cause the vital damage. Kris Boyd's rise from first out of Old Firm games to now First Pick has been somewhat of a fantastic story, battered by everyone he has answered all his critics. I sincerely hope that Kris breaks another one of the apparent myths that surround his game, the apparent in ability to score against them (despite the fact he has scored but lets not let facts stand in the way, apparently that game didn't count) Kenny Millers fortunes have in some way also mirrored Boyd's, Miller may not be everyone's hero but by God is he vital to our team, his running, vision and goal scoring is a key reason we are in such a healthy position today.
Steven Davis is another who has stepped up his game and begun to show the kind of consistency that has lauded him many plaudits in recent weeks. Madjid Bougherra is finally available for an Old Firm and along with Weir we will hopefully, once again be solid at the back. Bougherra and Davis will also be massive players for us in this match, our opposition simply will not cope if they perform as we know they can. With these players firing on all cylinders we look a strong confident side and we can play some good stuff. I do not fear them at all, although I appreciate the danger they can pose.
I am confident our team can succeed and has the ability to do so, normally my (considerable!) gut feeling is right and so far they have only been positive and confident. I would like to see a fast, attacking and atmospheric game, the last few Old Firms at Ibrox have been very tense but I think this could be different. They must win the game, defeat for them is not an option and I think that will mean they will come straight at Rangers from the off. I think that will also benefit us as we are very good on the counter and at being organised under this type of pressure. But I also think we will look to attack them from the get go and this could bring up a very lively encounter. I predict a few controversial moments and maybe even a red card or two. However, it is time for the waiting to stop, the talking to stop and the game to begin. I personally cannot wait.
It's a Rangers victory for me all the way. I hope with some style, similar to the 2nd half of the Hibernian victory a few weeks ago would do me nicely. But lets be honest here, a 94th minute winner off someone's arse wouldn't be so bad either, in fact maybe it might be better!
Enjoy the game folks, sing loud and proud to help the team
Yours in confidence