Celtic vs Rangers clashes will decide who wins Scottish Premiership title, says Andy Walker

Celtic host Rangers in the first Old Firm meeting of the season on Saturday, with the fixture set to decide the destination of the title, says Andy Walker; Watch Celtic vs Rangers on Saturday from 11.30am on Sky Sports Football; Kick-Off 12.30pm

Scott Brown and Alfredo Morelos in action
Image: Celtic host Rangers in the first Old Firm meeting of the season on Saturday, with the fixture set to decide the destination of the title, says Andy Walker

Being born and bred in Glasgow, I happily say it every time it comes around, it was without doubt the best fixture I ever played in.

I know for sure that former team-mates like Paul McStay and Paul Elliott would say the same; Graeme Souness and Mark Walters would back them up from the other side of the city.

Celtic versus Rangers is always highly anticipated, it's always fiercely contested and depending on the outcome, it will offer you the most extreme highs or depressing lows.

This season will be slightly different given that there will be no fans inside the stadium to generate the noise, passion and colour we normally associate with the game, but the result will be just as important.

Preparations for Celtic boss Neil Lennon have been far from ideal.

Attacking midfielder Ryan Christie - he would have been a certain starter - has been forced to isolate as a result of his close proximity to Scotland team-mate Stuart Armstrong testing positive for Covid-19.

Lennon's No 1 striker Odsonne Edouard - another certain starter - also tested positive for the virus while on international duty for France U21s and while his isolation period will end the day before the game, his inactivity over the last 10 days will surely rule him out from a starting slot.

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CELTIC VS RANGERS
Image: Both opposing managers - Lennon and Gerrard - have tough selection issues to make this weekend

Nir Bitton and Hatem Elhamed, both of Israel, have also tested positive and will definitely miss out at Celtic Park on Saturday.

Big players missing will always grab the headlines, but it also offers others a chance to shine and maybe it's time to really judge the strength of this Celtic squad under Lennon.

Now that the transfer window has closed, the bonus for Celtic is that all of their top players are still in Glasgow. All Lennon can ask for now is their complete focus and commitment.

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic

I can see him opt for Vasilis Barkas in goal, a back three of Christopher Jullien, Shane Duffy and Kristofer Ajer. Jeremie Frimpong is a certainty to be right wing-back, although I'm not sure who'll play on the left.

Uruguayan Diego Laxalt was signed to compete with Greg Taylor as a left-back/left wing-back, but given that he hasn't played since July, I imagine Taylor will get the nod.

Scott Brown, Calum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham can occupy the central area, while the biggest decision for Lennon will be who to play up front.

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The stage is set for Leigh Griffiths and Patrik Klimala to form an unlikely partnership for Celtic. Griffiths has been over the course before and showed what a natural goalscorer he is by heading in the opening goal against St Johnstone two weeks ago.

Celtic have a prolific goalscorer on their books, why not trust his instinct and play him from the start? He demonstrated how much he can affect a game when he came on as a sub against St Johnstone and turned a draw into a victory and all three points.

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Fellow sub Klimala also took his goal brilliantly against St Johnstone, I really admired his attitude when he bounced up after being wiped out in a tackle to quickly get back on his feet and finish with some style.

It didn't work out for him when he started earlier this season against St Mirren, but when you've paid £3.5m for a striker, there comes a point when you have to see how well he can lead the line against tough opposition.

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Ahead of the Old Firm match live on Sky Sports, we take a look at some of the best goals in this fixture including memorable strikes from Henrik Larsson, Pedro Mendes and more!

It doesn't get much tougher than a game against your bitter rivals in a season that would see the title winners go down in history.

Slowly but surely, Steven Gerrard is improving his Rangers side and after winning at Celtic Park so convincingly last December - the last time these two sides met - he'll approach the game with confidence.

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Like Lennon, Gerrard will have to do without some big players, not through Covid issues, but through injury.

Nicola Katic, Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe would all have been likely starters, but injury is likely to see all three miss out.

Nothing is ever won or lost in October, but the fixtures between the two are likely to go a long way to deciding who comes out on top in May
Andy Walker

If Gerrard is to secure the title in this historic season, he too will need to rely on the strength of his squad for every unpredictable scenario.

Injuries and suspensions affect every club, but the onus is on Rangers to prove they can be successful and offer a serious title challenge.

Nothing is ever won or lost in October, but the fixtures between the two are likely to go a long way to deciding who comes out on top in May.

Rangers 2-0 Ross County: James Tavernier fires Gers back to the top 2:07
Highlights from the Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Ross County

Both sides can afford the odd slip with a draw here or there, but I don't see either side losing too many games this season.

With 12 points between these two up for grabs, three wins out of four for either side would heighten their chances of success.

Roll on 12:30pm on Saturday!

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