It is that time of the year again when the citizens of Scotland will have their loyalties tested over a 90-minute game of football.
In spite of most of those fights happening inside the drawing rooms while sitting comfortably on the couch, the effects will be felt miles away inside an empty Celtic Park.
Experts suggested back in 2016 when Rangers returned to top-flight that the Glasgow derby would give the Scottish economy a £50m boost. The cost of policing an Old Firm derby was approximately £2.4m, throwing ample light on the sheer rivalry between the two teams.
Not much of that intensity will be up on offer this time around due to the pandemic but passion-wise, it will be more of the same.
Since their return back to the top flight, Rangers have often come up just short. Their drawn-out efforts have failed to come to fruition sometimes without any fault of their own.
However, there is a particularly positive vibe around Ibrox this time around after an extremely successful start to the campaign. After 10 games, the Gers have conceded just three goals and lead the table, one point ahead of their rivals Celtic, who have one game in hand.
Rangers won’t need any additional motivation ahead of the Old Firm derby as a win would allow them that additional breathing space ahead of the all-important midweek Europa League game against Standard Liege.
So, what makes Rangers the favourites to beat Celtic? Read on to find out.
#1 Desperation to stop Celtic from winning ten-in-a-row
Travelling down the memory lane, one can easily conclude that the Gers have enjoyed relative success against their bitter rivals. Much to the disappointment of Rangers faithful though, that growth curve has seen a steady decline since their fall from grace in 2012.
Celtic have won nine league titles in-a-row and have beaten their rivals five times to it, which makes it even more painful for the Rangers fans.
The Gers’ motivation to stop it from being ten-in-a-row can go a long way in getting them over the line when the two sides meet on Saturday.
The absence of Celtic fans at the Paradise can also help loosen the noose that is fastened around the neck of every single Rangers player when they take to the pitch at the home of their rivals on Saturday.
#2 Rangers finally have a squad to give Celtic a run for their money
Rangers were the most active Scottish club in the transfer market this summer, bringing in as many as eight players to add to the existing squad.
Having shouldered the responsibility of leading a club of Liverpool’s stature, Steven Gerrard knows what it takes to build a successful team.
Therefore, all the players he has brought in can turn out to be match-winners on a particular day. One thing is for sure – the new signings are not there to make up the numbers.
It means that even if Gerrard’s starting XI is unable to break down Celtic, the 40-year-old can turn towards his strong bench, bring on players, change the formation and try and get the desired result.
#3 Taking motivation from winning the last Old Firm derby
The last meeting between the two sides took place on the final day before the winter break last season, with Rangers winning the Old Firm derby 2-1 at Celtic Park.
The Gers’ derby triumph was even more special as Celtic had won 15 games in a row at Celtic Park prior to the match.
As far as Rangers were concerned, they had not won at the Paradise since 2010 and knew well before the match that they couldn’t afford to lose, not with Celtic already being five points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership table.
The players responded and in spite of Rangers conceding a poor goal, they were quick to counter and register a 2-1 win.
Although the promise faded after the game as the Bhoys ran away with the league title, that the particular win will reverberate in the minds of the Rangers players and can instigate them to another win against their bitter rivals at the weekend.
Hence, the Gers will head to Celtic Park with their confidence running high and will try and return with nothing less than three points.