Ally McCoist, coach of Glasgow looks on during the friendly match between Hamburger SV and Glagow Rangers at Imtech Arena in Hamburg, Germany. Rangers face Celtic in the Old Firm Derby on December 28, 2011.
Rangers lost for the second time this season at St Mirren on Christmas Eve and will be keen to extend their lead to four points against Celtic on Wednesday. Ross Dunbar previews the game from a Rangers perspective.
Rangers currently sit at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a one point lead over second-placed Celtic. The Light Blues have struggled in recent months under Ally McCoist with some below-par performances and the Gers will be desperate to get back to winning ways after losing 2-1 to St Mirren on Saturday.
The Scottish champions also lost against Kilmarnock in November at Rugby Park but got December off to a positive start with three victories against Dunfermline, Hibernian and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
McCoist will be without Romanian defender Dorin Goian who was sent off in Saturday’s defeat at St Mirren Park after receiving two yellow cards in the second half. The 31-year-old has been played 17 times for the SPL champions this season and has formed a strong partnership with Carlos Bocanegra. The former Palermo defender’s absence will be a massive selection headache for McCoist who is likely to start Kyle Bartley in defence.
Lee McCulloch was also sent off on Saturday and will be suspended for the match on Wednesday night which will be another selection issue for McCoist. Rangers are still without Steven Naismith and Jamie Ness but could welcome the likes of David Weir back to the squad.
The Rangers manager has gained the reputation of being a “tinkerman” in his first few months in charge at Ibrox given his changes in tactics this season. In recent weeks, McCoist has tested a 4-2-3-1 formation which could be deployed at Celtic Park in a game that would probably suit a five-man midfield.
But the visiting support will be keen to see Rangers stick with their 4-4-2 formation which served them well in the 4-2 win in October and the 2-1 Cup Final victory in March. The energy and pace of Kyle Lafferty could be integral to pressing Celtic back, who themselves will be keen to press Rangers high up the park.
Player to watch:
Rangers supporters will be pinning their hopes on former Aberdeen winger Sone Aluko to bring some much-needed flair and creativity to an under-performing side. Aluko was signed by Ally McCoist in December on a free transfer and has been impressive in his first few appearances for the Ibrox club.
The 22-year-old made a substitute appearance at St Mirren Park on Saturday and looked lively with some direct runs down the right-hand side and a good final ball. With Lee Wallace and Sone Aluko on the flanks, Rangers could pose a problem to the Celtic full-backs if they get both men on the ball in attacking areas.