Celtic looking to hit top form against Rangers, as new signings may start

The first derby of the season awaits this afternoon with all the excitement and nerves that this fixture brings starting to kick in.

Celtic haven’t been in the best of form in recent weeks following the Viaplay Cup exit at Kilmarnock followed up with a home draw against St Johnstone. With fans hoping for more firepower in the final third, Celtic have acquired the services of Honduran winger Luis Palma from Greek side Aris and the 23-year-old could potentially be in line for his first appearance this weekend.

A Celtic State of Mind had the chance to speak to Palma and he confirmed through his translator that he is ready if called upon.

Brendan Rodgers has a stellar record against Rangers with 13 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss against the Gers. In those 13 games, the aggregate score sits at 31-7 in favour of Celtic, with Rodgers’ only loss against Rangers coming in his final derby as Celtic manager.

This game will be the first time ever that Brendan Rodgers has managed against Michael Beale and, with both clubs not in the greatest of form, it should make for an entertaining encounter.

New Celtic signing Nat Phillips could also be in line for a start at Ibrox with the Hoops currently short for options in the depleted centre-back position. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki are expected to be out for some time so that opens the door for Nat Phillips to have a baptism of fire on Sunday.

As previously mentioned, Rangers have had a mixed start to the season. A loss to Kilmarnock on the opening day had many fans fearing for the worst, however Rangers have claimed maximum points since the Rugby Park defeat.

A midweek Champions League exit at the hands of PSV Eindhoven in what was a disastrous display from Rangers may have knocked the confidence of players and fans alike.

Both sides know that a win will give them a massive boost heading into the busy few weeks ahead, with Celtic looking to go 4 points clear and Rangers looking to leapfrog Celtic with a win.

Celtic are without many key players heading into this fixture with Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki, Reo Hatate and Stephen Welsh all injured.

Rodgers will be encouraged by the return of Oh Hyeon-gyu to training this week with the Celtic attack severely lacking in quality from the bench in recent weeks. The return of Alistair Johnston to the Celtic team last week against St Johnstone will also provide a massive boost to the Celtic backline, with Johnston being exactly the type of player who rises to the occasion in these fixtures.

With the potential of new signings making their debuts this weekend as well as the usual excitement and thrills of derby matches, all things point to an interesting and entertaining encounter this Sunday.


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