By Abigail Withey
BT Sport broadcaster Stephen Craigan isn’t convinced that Rangers can cope against their rivals Celtic as the first Old Firm clash of the season nears closer.
Pedro Caixinha’s side most recently secured a 2-2 draw against Partick Thistle in the Premiership after stand-in skipper Graham Dorrans salvaged a single point for the club after scoring a late equaliser for the Light Blues.
The Gers have had a mixed bag of results during their campaign so far, with three wins, two draws and a loss to newly promoted Hibernian back in August.
Caixinha’s team will host rivals Celtic in their next Premiership fixture on Saturday and will be hoping to stop the Hoops’ unbeaten run, but Craigan thinks that Brendan Rodgers’ side will come out on top.
“They’ve not yet faced a side of Celtic’s calibre. And the key man in these Old Firm games in the past 18 months has been Scott Brown,” the BT Sport pundit stated, as quoted by the Scottish Sun.
“Can Dorrans and Jack cope with Brown, Stuart Armstrong and Olivier Ntcham? Can they cope with their ability on the ball? Can they cope with their running power? Can they cope with their movement?
“This is the barometer for Pedro and Rangers, their first real test. And the gap may have narrowed – but I still think Celtic will come out on top.
“Whether it takes two or three Old Firm games or the rest of the season for Pedro to work out what works, Celtic on form have more influential players and match winners.”
Rangers last faced their rivals at the end of April in the Premiership and got hammered 5-1 at Ibrox.
However, Caixinha had a productive summer transfer window and made a number of new recruits such as Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Jack.
They’ll be looking to help their team improve on last season, when they finished a staggering 39 points behind Celtic, and Caixinha will be aware how vital the first Old Firm derby is.
It might be early in the season, but a loss could wipe out any hopes that Rangers have of competing for the title.