Celtic welcome Rangers on September 10 for the first Old Firm game in the Premiership since 2012.
The Old Firm is finally back for good and even if excitement brewed as the new season started, both sets of fans would have had their eyes set firmly on September 10.
Right up to the day heated arguments will take place over whose team is better, whose squad is better, whose manager is better and whose fans are better.
Brendan Rodgers and Mark Warburton have both added to their squads, unsurprisingly the latter more than the former, but as Celtic, with a game in hand, head into the eagerly-awaited match this Saturday one point ahead of Rangers, who makes this campaign’s best Old Firm XI?
Craig Gordon — One of the toughest choices, with both goalkeepers evidently vulnerable. The season before last the Celtic stopper showed signs of getting back to his best, but he has not been his commanding self recently. Wes Foderingham is suspect in many ways, and should find it tougher in the top tier this year. With both under pressure from their clubs’ new backup 'keepers, Gordon pips the No 1 spot through his indisputable ability when on form.
James Tavernier — There is a clear lack of quality in the right-back position for both sides, though Celtic summer signing Cristian Gamboa has a chance to change that after signing from West Bromwich Albion. Rangers’ No 2 is superb at bombing forward, yet lacks quality defensively. Mikael Lustig makes good decisions as a better reader of the game, but comes nowhere near Tavernier in terms of directness. And goals.
Kolo Toure — The former Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City defender has been there and done it. He has already made a huge difference, bringing calmness and experience to a defence that has lacked both for many years. Toure has shown he certainly has the right mentality to slot firmly into a side on a quest in the Champions League and to defend their Premiership title.
Erik Sviatchenko — A natural leader, the Danish centre half is one of the strongest defenders at Celtic and already has previous for making an impact against Rangers. The pair’s places at the heart of the backline are under no threat with Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan clearly not good enough for the step up into the Premiership from the Championship.
Kieran Tierney — Probably the most competitive pick in the 11, both Celtic and Rangers undoubtedly possess talented left-backs. Though a great outlet going forward for the blue side, Lee Wallace gets edged out by the Celtic youngster. Tierney, who broke onto the scene last season, is a better all-round player and much more accomplished defensively. He is definitely going to be on the wanted list of many clubs if he keeps performing as well as he is.
Patrick Roberts — The City loanee is one of the most exciting players to grace Parkhead in the past few years. He thrills supporters to the point they are getting off their seats when the ball is only arriving at his feet. Once recovered from injury, he will go on to be a major creator and scorer of goals this campaign. Roberts is arguably the most entertaining player in this 11 when in full flight.
Scott Brown — First name on the teamsheet. The fitness issues under Ronny Deila have disappeared and under Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic captain seems back to doing what he does best. Leading his team, breaking up play and physically out playing his opponents in midfield, Brown is not the spent force many have made him out to be. Joey Barton, who has made a terrible start in Scottish football, can say all he wants, but there is only one winner when these two match up.
Niko Kranjcar — If the Croatian midfielder can get himself anywhere near fit enough, then he could represent Mark Warburton’s best piece of business of the summer. Sublimely creative, Kranjcar is a game-changer who can produce something out of nothing when required as we seen during his time in the Premier League.
Scott Sinclair — Joining the game with his breakaway pace off the left flank, the winger has already started providing and belting strikes home for his new club. Since scoring the winner on his debut against Hearts, the 27-year-old has yet to look back, finding his feet under a manager he has known for over 10 years and who proved a huge influence in his decision to join Celtic. The past shows Sinclair performs under Rodgers’ leadership and history looks to be repeating itself.
Moussa Dembele — You only have to re-watch the majestic solo run and the superb penalty from this forward in the last minute of the Scottish champions’ Champions League tie against Astana to remind yourself of what he will bring to Celtic. He hasn’t been linked to some of the biggest clubs in the world for nothing and just needs a solid run of matches to prove his undoubted worth. Ibrox striker Martyn Waghorn won’t come close to a kickstarted Dembele this season.
Leigh Griffiths — Top goalscorer by 10 goals in the last league campaign, the Scotsman nails down this spot with his outstanding amount of strikes. He has evidently worked extremely hard on his game and has done so tirelessly. He is the man you want on the end of chances that fall in the box. Griffiths could miss again and again but you know he’ll still end up with at least one goal to his name come the final whistle. An easy decision to make up a front four all from what looks to be the sixth in a row champions in the making.
Have something to tell us about this article?