Rangers’ defence for Celtic; who should get Murty’s call?


As Rangers fans are only too well aware, our biggest weakness of the past two months has been defence.

Whilst thankfully it has not cost too many points, it is an area of concern, and the lack of any convincing pairings as yet materialising from the options available is something Graeme Murty must deal with in light of Sunday’s Old Firm.

There are a number of ways of looking at the backline.

In positive terms, Rangers have shut out both the league’s fourth top scorer in Kyle Lafferty and Hearts, whilst also stopping Scotland’s third top team Aberdeen with relative ease on several occasions.

There have also been minimal returns for in-form Ayr United, while St Johnstone got little change. This bodes well.

However, Hamilton were able to breach the rearguard on three occasions, while Hibernian, the most similar side to Celtic in so many ways, were able to put two past Foderingham and clearly did deserve to do so.

A further caveat on top of that result though is that Sean Goss had not fully got up to speed with the SPL yet, while Jason Holt was still his partner; the protection the defence got was not ideal that day. The difference an in-form Goss and a colossal Greg Docherty have made to such affairs cannot be underestimated.

Nevertheless, the opposition Celtic will offer will be stronger, quicker, fitter and simply better than anything Rangers have faced this calendar year, but in yet more subplots, a weaker than present Rangers went to Parkhead against a stronger and more in-form Celtic and still got a well-deserved draw.

Nevertheless the backline is not settled, and we are concerned at what Graeme Murty plans to select to combat Sinclair, Dembele and co.

Celtic have strength on the wings, and Rangers are unquestionably vulnerable there and through the middle, albeit we could potentially set up for a three at the back like Uncle Walter used to do – but we are unsure if Murty is confident enough to use three.

The biggest concern is that while neither Hearts nor Aberdeen were really able to lay a glove on Rangers in recent times, Hibs most certainly did and Hamilton were not far behind – and Celtic are superior to all four of these.

The compensation is that Rangers’ midfield and attack is currently far more potent than Celtic’s, so while their advanced players may smell blood from our backline, the reverse is equally true – Simunovic is struggling hugely at the back and they have certainly been conceding goals – Murphy, Windass and co should have some joy in this one.

One thing is evident – there is a chance this could be a fairly high-scoring match.

But the old adage is utterly correct here – it really is about scoring more goals than your opponent.

Chances are that Rangers will concede, but similarly so will Celtic.

It just depends on who concedes the least.

What would you do?

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  1. Good article guys, for me it has to be Bates and Martin, although Martin not a clear header winner he does see the whole game most of the time ! Young Bates has bit of a track record against the rotten mob , mixed in success, especially in ball distribution but he has a little more pace and fitness for this fixture and against Sinclair , Ncham and Demebele he will need it . The key will be to get the full backs to play a patient game on the wings and commit forward only when they see an opportunity. I think Docherty could be the key man for this fixture he needs to control midfield and break up the shape of Brown and McGregor and Ncham hopefully allowing Goss to then create and release Murphy Windass and Morelos…we can beat them I honestly believe that. Hearts and Killie showed the way .. Hopefully their arrogance will be a hindrance to them this time and the gaps and chinks in their system will be exposed by us … Its a pity we hadn't reduced their ticket allocation too !!!

  2. The age old saying of form goes right out the window with an OF. As you stated above nobody expected us to get a draw last time out, yet we’re playing better now…

    I picked Bates & Alves as they’ve played together so know each other. Martin no offence hasn’t played in anything like an OF game, that’s why I went for that pairing..

    Keep that back door welded shut who ever it is come kick off.. Bloody slow wk this..

  3. Alves main strength is heading. Have to believe that Bates and Martin can head well enough to hold them out. Alves weakness is speed of foot and thought. Martin isn't the fastest and Bates isn't the smartest, but the combination is the one that has played together most regularly.

  4. Bates and Martin is the only pairing we have who have played a few games together and had success.

    I think the strongest pairing might be Alves and Martin and I'd like to see them play a few games together before the Scottish Cup semi, but this Sunday has to be Bates and Martin

  5. We should also be asking who plays at LB, Wallace played the 90 minutes in a bounce game so will we start him on Sunday or stick with Halliday?

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