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Sir Kenny Dalglish: Steven Gerrard may pull a surprise – and strap in for pens

© SNS GroupWes Foderingham and Martyn Waghorn celebrate Rangers’ penalty shoot-out win over Celtic in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final.
Wes Foderingham and Martyn Waghorn celebrate Rangers’ penalty shoot-out win over Celtic in the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Steven Gerrard does something unexpected this afternoon.

Sure, in the three Old Firm games this season, Rangers have won two and drawn the other.

But the evidence from the game at Ibrox in the New Year, and last month’s clash at Parkhead, suggested Celtic were very unlucky not to win at least one of those Premiership clashes.

However, they came up against a goalkeeper in Allan McGregor who was in outstanding form and pulled off three or four excellent saves.

So Steven will know that he can’t take victory for granted in the Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox.

That’s why he might just throw a wee spanner in the works, and spring something that nobody is expecting, be it in terms of formation or his team-selection.

I don’t have any inside information. Nobody has marked my card. It’s purely a hunch.

Steven has played 4-3-3 in just about every game this season. It’s a system that’s suits the players, and it works extremely well.

They are well-drilled, and every player knows their job inside out.

Might he go to three at the back, with three in central midfield supported by wing-backs, and two up front?

I can’t see John Kennedy doing anything that would take us by surprise.

Not that I’m saying John isn’t creative, and doesn’t know how to change things to suit a certain fixture.

But Celtic defeated Livingston 6-0 last weekend, and John was singing the praises of his players. So why change anything?

The only thing is whether or not James Forrest is fit for selection. I’m sure if James gives the thumbs up, then he will be straight into the starting line-up.

James is a potential match-winner, of that there is no doubt.

So are Odsonne Edouard and Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent.

Having wrapped up title No. 55 Alfredo Morelos will be keen to help Rangers secure a League and Cup double © SNS Group
Alfredo Morelos

For that reason, I think there will be goals in the game – and I fancy it will go all the way to a penalty shoot-out.

The battle for midfield dominance will also be key.

In the home team you have Steven Davis. He has been an outstanding servant to the club, and still has plenty in the tank.

He will want to take this game by the scruff of the neck in midfield.

But he faces an equally-talented customer in Scott Brown. He is in his final few games as Celtic skipper, and losing at Ibrox today will not be on his agenda.

I can see Scott being vocal before, during and after this game.

The last clash between the sides was quite tame – but this one will be different.

I can see this being a fiery encounter, but for the right reasons. I can see every player giving his all, and there will be no holding back.

That said, there needs to be that bit of quality to win the game.

That’s where the strikers come into their own. Bottom line is that you will struggle to win competitive games if you don’t have a proper centre-forward. Both Morelos and Edouard will play vital roles.

I’ll also be interested to see if James Tavernier or Nathan Patterson are selected. Ideally, Steven will want his captain in the starting line-up, but only if he feels ready for the game.

If he doesn’t, then Nathan is a very capable young man, and there will be no reservations about playing him from the start. This fixture will not faze him.

But if the Scotsman is in from the first whistle, perhaps Celtic will see that as an area to exploit.

© Craig Williamson / SNS Group
Celtic’s James Forrest

John and his coaching staff might think there could be mileage in putting someone, such as Forrest or Moi Elyounoussi, up against Nathan.

It all makes for an interesting afternoon, and I can’t wait to see both starting line-ups.

I think all television viewers should strap themselves in, as this could go to penalties.

Who will win? Well, it’s anyone’s guess after that.

All every player will want at the end of the game is to walk off the pitch, knowing that they are in the Scottish Cup quarter-final.

They can then go home and enjoy their tea.


Maybe now the penny will finally drop?

© PA
Rangers’ Glen Kamara (left) with Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela

Ondrej Kudela was been handed a 10-game ban by UEFA after being found guilty of racially abusing Glen Kamara.

Kamara’s claim against the Slavia Prague player – that he was racially abused – was upheld, and it’s clear the Rangers midfielder has been through a horrible experience.

Considering the disgraceful language that was used by Kudela, he deserves everything he got – if not more.

He will miss European games for his club and games for his country at this summer’s Euros.

Now the message has to get across to everyone in football that racism will not be tolerated.

Players need to be afraid to use the kind of language employed by Kudela in the future.

So, is a 10-game ban for the Czech defender a strong enough punishment?

I don’t think so. I can most definitely see the argument from those who wanted the sanctions to be even more hard-hitting.

Interestingly enough, Slavia haven’t appealed the decision. They have accepted the punishment and apologised.

But I do think that Glen Kamara being banned for three games is over the top.

And for me, to ban Kemar Roofe for four games over the clash with the Slavia keeper that saw him sent off, is also too severe.

Thankfully, the racism episode has been dealt with, and not brushed under the carpet, as many feared would happen.

We do not want to see any repeat of this, but we must never become complacent on this issue.

The fight is going to be an ongoing one, and it’d also about making sure social media firms are also on board.

They simply have to do their bit to find any guilty parties who overstep the mark on their platforms, and have them removed.

Police are also making arrests.

So, hopefully, now people are not getting away with this kind of shameful language and behaviour.