RANGERS head into the second Old Firm game of the season against Celtic at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon on the back of an impressive run of form under new manager Philippe Clement.

The Ibrox club have topped their Europa League group, lifted the Viaplay Cup and reduced their city rivals’ lead at the top of the cinch Premiership since the Belgian took over back in October.

However, Clement has a lengthy injury list and will go into the match in the East End of Glasgow with just one fit striker and one specialist central midfielder. The visitors, too, will not have any fans inside Celtic Park cheering them on.

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So how can the man in the opposition dugout extend his unbeaten run as manager to 17 games on his Glasgow derby debut? Here are five things James Tavernier and his team mates must do to prevail.

Turn the crowd against Celtic

The absence of any away supporters inside Parkhead this weekend will make life difficult for Rangers. They will be greeted by one of the most hostile and intimidating atmospheres they have encountered in their careers when they come out of the tunnel before kick-off. But they can use that to their advantage if they start well, contain their hosts and possibly even snatch the lead.

The Herald: If Celtic fail to edge ahead or even fall behind, unrest will grow in the stands and pressure will mount on their players. That was certainly what happened a fortnight ago when Hearts forged two clear in the first half. There were chants of “Sack the board” and “Lawwell, Lawwell, get to f***” as the Scottish champions slumped to a second successive league defeat for the first time in 10 years.

If the top flight leaders fail to pick up all three points in this fixture they will hand their nearest challengers, who are currently five points behind with two games in hand, an advantage in the title race. Rangers can capitalise on the unease and unhappiness that exists among their adversaries’ followers just now.  

Win the midfield battle

Callum McGregor was allowed to dictate play in the middle of the park when the injury-ravaged treble winners travelled to Govan back in October and Celtic ran out narrow 1-0 victors as a result. If he is allowed to do so again tomorrow, there will be an identical outcome.

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Central midfield has been a problem position for Rodgers since Reo Hatate was ruled out by injury. Tomoki Iwata, David Turnbull, Odin Thiago Holm and Paulo Bernardo have all been deployed there with varying degrees of success. The latter will, despite Hatate being near to a return, probably get the nod after scoring in the 3-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day. 

But if Kieran Dowell and Dujon Sterling can gel as well as they did in the wins over St Johnstone and Motherwell and gain the upper hand on their opponents in a crucial area then they can give the Rangers front four a platform to perform on. 

Starve Kyogo Furuhashi of service

The Japanese internationalist has, like so many of his Celtic team mates, not been at his brilliant best in recent weeks and has been left on the bench on a couple of occasions.

But the PFA Scotland and SFWA Player of the Year has an impressive track record against Rangers – he has been on target five times in the last five Glasgow derby matches – and will need to closely marked by the Ibrox club’s defenders.

The Herald: Cutting off the supply to the diminutive forward from wide areas and from on-form playmaker Matt O’Riley will curtail his effectiveness in the final third as well.

Hit their hosts on the counter

Celtic have fared better against teams who take a less defensive approach to matches during their dip in form. They beat Feyenoord in the Champions League and hammered Hibernian in the Premiership. But they have struggled to break down sides like Kilmarnock, Hearts and Livingston who have sat back and sought to frustrate them.

Rangers showed in their 3-2 triumph over Real Betis in Spain earlier this month that they are not afraid to have a go against decent sides away. But Clement would be well advised to tweak his tactics this weekend. 

Take their chances

The imminent arrival of Fabio Silva on loan from Premier League club Wolves will help Rangers to pose an even greater threat up front at home and abroad in the second half of the 2023/24 campaign than they have in the first half.

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But the Portugal Under-21 internationalist will not be available until the January transfer window and Clement will have to put his faith in Cyriel Dessers, who is the only fit striker currently available to him, at Parkhead.

Dessers has been much improved of late. His goal against Betis was impressive. He and his fellow forwards will have to be at their very best against Celtic because their scoring opportunities are likely to be limited.

The Herald: