Rangers legend Brian Laudrup’s assertion that Ryan Kent & Fashion Sakala’s pace is a massive danger to Celtic is completely dead on, and the form of both wingers has been tremendous in recent times.
Rangers, of course, face the Parkhead side this weekend in the season’s first trophy of the renamed Viaplay Cup, and both sides’ form is pretty close to immaculate, meaning something has to give at Hampden for the showpiece occasion.
And Laudrup believes Kent and Sakala are a huge weapon for Rangers – and we totally agree.
See, both Rangers and Celtic essentially play the same system – dominant possession, overwhelming the opposition with numbers and generally winning by sheer weight of pressure. Heck, even the formations are mostly the same, with a general 4-3-3 using two overlapping fullbacks and two flankers around a striker.
The big difference between the two is Rangers’ two flankers are lightning fast, both being quicker than their counterparts, and that counterpunch Laudrup refers to is a fine asset for Rangers, hunting down space behind Greg Taylor and Alistair Johnston (no, not that one).
Of course, Maida and Jota will want to do the same, but James Tavernier especially has pace too, maybe not as much as when he was younger, but he is quicker than most. Jota, however, may well see similar joy from Borna Barisic, who is not blessed with the yards, but the Rangers left back is in very good form and has been quite tight defensively.
But Kent and Sakala? They are probably the quickest two players in Scottish football, and using them to find the space behind Taylor, Johnston and probably Starfelt and Vickers could be key to opening chances up for a big Rangers win. That will be vital given Vickers especially is physically a brute similar to Calvin Bassey, and sheer power on his part will always win in a pure confrontation.
Stavros will know this, and he has no similar weapon against the pace. Taylor and Johnston are no slouches, but Sakala and Kent’s pace is massive, given how Celtic play, and we saw just how dangerous Michael Beale’s Rangers could be at Ibrox when Celtic visited in January. Substitutions definitely flunked that one.
We’ll find out how correct Laudrup is this weekend when both sides lock horns for the first silverware this season.