Celtic in pole position to win Scottish Premiership title after Old Firm win, says Andy Walker

February 03, 2022

Celtic are in pole position to reclaim the Scottish Premiership title after their resounding Old Firm victory over champions Rangers, according to Andy Walker.

On a memorable night at Parkhead, Celtic knocked Rangers off top spot and opened up a one-point lead with a 3-0 thumping of their Old Firm rivals.

With clear problems to solve for Rangers, after conceding three goals for the second successive league game, Ange Postecoglou's side have the opportunity to kick on in the title race.

Having seen their nine-year title-winning streak ended by Rangers last season, Walker believes Celtic now have the manager, the squad, and experience to reclaim the Scottish Premiership crown.

"I know there are a couple of games against Rangers to play, but to go top of the league now, and in that manner, says a lot about this Celtic side," Walker told Sky Sports.

"A lot of the players have been in this position before, they have been winners, it was just such a poor season last time.

"You've got to look at the options Ange Postecoglou still has to bring in. He's got Kyogo Furuhashi, David Turnbull, Tom Rogic, Christopher Jullien - Celtic have got a really strong squad and that is what gives every Celtic supporter hope that Postecoglou can get that title back.

"The biggest message was that this wasn't a close game - Celtic battered Rangers. That is what gives every player a lift, and the supporters. Celtic are only in front by a point but, with 14 games left to play, Celtic are in pole position.

"Celtic play at Fir Park against Motherwell on Sunday a few hours before Rangers host Hearts. It's important Celtic build on it and put pressure on Rangers."

With no travelling supporters inside Celtic Park, Rangers were beaten by half-time as Reo Hatate marked his Old Firm debut with a stunning double before Liel Abada turned home a third amid jubilant scenes.

It was a sobering and sore first loss for Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst since he took over at the end of November, but the champions could have no complaints, according to former striker Ally McCoist, who pointed to a decline in performances since the turn of the year.

McCoist: Wake-up call for Rangers

"There is no doubt about it, Celtic were hungrier, they were better, faster - everything about Celtic was much better than Rangers," McCoist told Sky Sports.

"The worrying thing from Rangers' point of view is that there has been a decline in the level of performance since the winter break, that is really worrying.

"If you look at the Aberdeen game, they got a 1-1 draw, not great. The defending in Dingwall [3-3 draw at Ross County] was absolutely shocking, another two points were dropped, especially if you want to win leagues. And tonight, they were beaten in every single area of the football pitch.

"The only shining light you could give Rangers was Ryan Jack coming on in the second half and playing very well, but Celtic were dominant in all areas, and the key areas. In full-back positions, in wide areas, Rangers were poor, Celtic were excellent, and that was a big factor in the game."

McCoist described the Old Firm defeat as a wake-up call for Rangers but insisted there is still life in their title challenge, and pointed to the impact striker Alfredo Morelos and January signing Aaron Ramsey could have when they get into the team.

"Celtic won three points tonight, nothing else has been won in terms of the title," he added. "The signs have been there, and I'm not sure it was required, but this was a wake-up call, a real wake-up call.

"I think Rangers will recover from that [performance]. The return of Morelos will be a big deal and I'm just hoping that Aaron Ramsey will come into the side and make a big difference. You would have to think that Ramsey and Morelos would certainly make a difference coming into the Rangers side."

McCoist: Rangers have fight on their hands

McCoist added: "Van Bronckhorst has got to sit his team down and show them that [performance] again, they have to. Thankfully I don't. That performance tonight from a Rangers supporter's point of view was unacceptable.

"You can get beaten 3-0, but there are ways to get beaten 3-0. That tonight from Rangers was not a way to be beaten 3-0. But you have to be balanced about it, Celtic were excellent, particularly in the first 45 minutes, they were top class.

"The statistics are there, you can look at whatever you want. Rangers deserved to lose the game tonight. It's Van Bronckhorst's first defeat, and also Rangers' second in 62 games.

"You can butter it up that way, but the fact of the matter is the last three performances have been concerning, particularly tonight against your biggest rivals, and a team who will be your biggest rivals for the title, that's the concern.

"If Rangers don't address the problem, Celtic will push on. Before the game, the momentum was with Celtic, but it is seriously with Celtic after the game. Rangers have got a fight on their hands."

Rate this item
(0 votes)


103.5 & 105.3FM


Mobile Apps

Smart Speaker