Rangers v Celtic – talking points

Rangers host Celtic in their keenly-awaited Ladbrokes Premiership clash at Ibrox on Sunday.

The Light Blues are looking to reduce the gap behind their Old Firm rivals at the top of the table to three points, albeit the champions have a game in hand.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the game

Rangers are optimistic despite recent history

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Graeme Murty’s Rangers are optimistic ahead of the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic (Ian Rutherford/PA)

There was a huge cheer from the Rangers dressing room last week when the Ibrox men were drawn against holders Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final.  And many Gers fans echo that optimism if social media is any kind of barometer.

However, Rangers have not beaten Celtic in their previous eight meetings since winning the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final in 2016 on penalties.

Indeed, the Govan side have not beaten Celtic in 90 minutes since 2012 and Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers has yet to taste defeat to the Light Blues in eight games since he came Parkhead boss in 2016. Is optimism misplaced?

Mikael Lustig suspension dilemma

Rangers v Celtic – talking points PLZ Soccer
Celtic right-back Mikael Lustig sits out through suspension (Jeff Homes/PA)

Sweden right-back Mikael Lustig is suspended for the trip to Ibrox leaving Rodgers with a dilemma.

He started with a back three of Kristoffer Ajer, Jozo Simunovic and debutant Marvin Compper in the 3-0 William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Morton last weekend while full-back Cristian Gamboa was available.

Will he recall the Costa Rican defender for Ibrox? Could fit-again youngster Anthony Ralston be thrown back in after recovering from a knee injury that has kept him out since last September?

Who will be left-back for Rangers?

Rangers v Celtic – talking points PLZ Soccer
Rangers manager Graeme Murty might have to keep midfielder Andy Halliday at left-back against Celtic (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Midfielder Andy Halliday has deputised for Declan John at left-back in the last two matches for Rangers.

The 22-year-old Welshman was sidelined with a groin strain and is racing against time to be fit.

To add to the mix, club captain Lee Wallace, out since September, came through a bounce game in midweek. If John runs out of time, could Gers boss Graeme Murty take a chance with the 30-year-old Wallace against the pace of James Forrest? Or will Halliday be preferred?

Odsonne Edouard looking for a Celtic start

With Celtic struggling against Morton at Parkhead last week, 20-year-old Odsonne Edouard, on loan from Paris St Germain, came off the bench as a replacement for Scott Sinclair to give fellow French striker Moussa Dembele a hand.

He made all the difference. Dembele scored a double and Edouard notched at the end to give the Hoops a comfortable win. Rodgers admitted Edouard would be in contention but will he start him in place of Sinclair?

Rodgers could also bring in Callum McGregor or  Charly Musonda or fit-again midfielder Stuart Armstrong could make a surprise start.

Jamie Murphy racing to be fit

Rangers v Celtic – talking points PLZ Soccer
Rangers’ Jamie Murphy hoping to be fit to face Celtic (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Murphy has impressed since joining Rangers on loan from Brighton in January but has been left out the William Hill Scottish Cup win over Falkirk with a toe injury.

Boss Graeme Murty is hopeful of having the 28-year-old  former Motherwell winger available again which would be a huge boost for the Light Blues as he gives balance to the side.

If not, Jason Cummings, who scored a hat-trick against the Bairns, may be deployed in that position or even Josh Windass with another tweak to formation.

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