In an interview with The Evening Times former Celtic forward and Sky Sports pundit, Andy Walker, has claimed that any title challenge could go down “to the wire” this season.
His comments are inspired by the weekend’s developments that saw the Parkhead side lose their grip on top spot following the shock 2-0 defeat to Livingston.
Walker has been effusive in his praise of the Ibrox men which won’t go down well with his Paradise brethren, reflecting on Rangers’ recent form he claims that:
“It’s a real boost for Steven Gerrard to see his team react in the way they have since losing to Celtic at Ibrox. I think you have to admire Rangers and the way they have responded after losing that game”.
“Apart from the [Europa League] defeat against Young Boys, their response has been terrific. They obviously would have had a big lift from Celtic losing [to Livingston] and the crowd would have been up for it, the players were up for it”.
“And when you see Jermain Defoe coming in and taking the place of Alfredo Morelos, with the amount of goals they’ve scored already, as long as they steer clear of injury then Rangers have got every chance”.
“From middle to front, they’re creating chances and the response since losing to Celtic has been absolutely first class. And, make no doubt, the title race is going all the way to the end of the season”.
There’s no doubt about Rangers’ improvements in squad depth this season, being able to call up on Jermain Defoe as back-up to Alfredo Morelos for a whole campaign instead of Kyle Lafferty and being able to beat teams like Hamilton comfortably with a number of first-team regulars rested. The likes of Joe Aribo, Brandon Barker and Greg Stewart have all chipped in with goals this season, after all.
As with most close title races, the fine margins can be what decides who lifts the trophy at the end of the season and, at the moment, it is the Gers that are edging it.
A late winner against Kilmarnock and a single goal victory over St Mirren with only Borna Barisic’s excellent free-kick the difference between the two sides could easily have been four points dropped.
Compare this to Celtic in the last two weeks, two penalty claims turned down against Hibernian and Ryan Christie sent-off against Livingston after just 25 minutes. Five points dropped in two games that they would expect to win comfortably. All it takes is a bad referee decision or a moment of madness from an individual to cost a team points.
Rangers are in a better position to challenge Celtic for the title this year but October, after eight league games, isn’t the time to make the judgement. Until we get deeper into the campaign, Rangers have just made a good start to the season and Walker is just jumping on the bandwagon.
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