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Down the memory lane: A look back at the season when Rangers last lifted the Scottish Premiership title



A look back at the 2010-11 season when Rangers last lifted the Scottish Premiership title

The Scottish Premiership has turned into one of the most straightforward and predictable leagues in Europe over the past decade or so, with Celtic continuing to hold the bragging rights for a considerable period of time.

The Hoops’ dominance once again reigned supreme this past season, as the club bagged their eighth straight domestic title and a third consecutive domestic treble.

Well, going by the statistics that Aberdeen were the last side outside the Old Firm to lift the league title way back in 1984-85, it has always been two-way traffic in Scottish football, with Rangers and Celtic establishing themselves as the undisputed and unparalleled powerhouses of the nation.

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Since the turn of the century, both the Old Firm giants shared the bragging rights quite equally until the end of the first decade, with Celtic winning 6 and Rangers winning 4 league titles in that span of time.

The Gers made a positive start to the new decade by winning the 2010-11 domestic title but it has been all one-way traffic ever since, with Celtic establishing a stranglehold on the Scottish Premiership.

Rangers’ entry into administration followed by insolvency and subsequent demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football in 2012 allowed Celtic to virtually run a one-horse race on the domestic front for four years.

Rangers secured a return to the first-tier following a promotion-winning campaign in the Scottish Championship in the 2015-16 season but the Gers are yet to taste any kind of success in the post-insolvency era.

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The Hoops have made the most of their opportunity though, taking their title count up to 50, just four short of Rangers’ record tally of 54.

As far as the number of domestic trebles is concerned, Celtic were way short of Rangers’ tally of 7 in the last decade but three back-to-back trebles in recent times have seen them take their count up to 6, just one short of equalling the achievement of their arch-rivals.

Rangers, of course, are still one of the biggest clubs not only in Scotland but also in Europe, and the Gers will be expected to end Celtic’s dominance somewhere down the line in the future, although the fans at Ibrox would want that to happen sooner than later.

Whether or not Steven Gerrard’s side will be able to oust Celtic from the throne next season is definitely a burning topic that can be put up for discussion.

However, it is worth taking a walk down the memory lane to the 2010-11 season, which was the last time that Rangers won the domestic title. Here is a brief review of what happened during that campaign.

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The 2010-11 season

Having won back-to-back league titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Rangers came into the season high on confidence as the two-time defending champions, with the fans at Ibrox expecting their team to make it a hat-trick of league triumphs over Celtic.

However, with the ongoing financial problems pretty apparent, many players left the club prior to the start of the campaign, leaving manager Walter Smith to decide whether he wanted to increase the number of playing staff or bring in some quality players. Smith showed his experience, though, and opted for the latter option.

As a result, Rangers made the headlines with the big-money signing of Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic from Rapid Wien, while the arrival of James Beattie from Stoke City also bolstered the forward line.

Vladimir Weiss was also brought in on loan from Manchester City in a bid to add more depth to the midfield ranks.

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The Gers started off their campaign with a 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock at home, with goals from Kenny Miller and Steven Naismith propelling Smith’s side to a rather comfortable victory.

Straightforward and convincing victories over St.Johnstone, Hamilton Academical, Hibernian and Dundee United followed before Rangers faced a stern test at home against Aberdeen.

Rangers found themselves 2-0 down, courtesy of strikes from Scott Vernon and Christopher Maguire, before Miller’s brace followed by Jelavic’s second-half winner sealed all three points for the Gers.

Rangers travelled to Parkhead for the first Old Firm derby of the season towards the end of October with a perfect record in the league, and Smith’s side passed the test with flying colours despite falling behind to Gary Hooper’s opener.

An own-goal by Glenn Loovens followed by a brace from Miller completed an impressive comeback, as Rangers beat Celtic 3-1.

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Surprisingly, the Gers dropped points against Inverness at home in the following game and suffered their first defeat of the campaign against Hibernian a couple of weeks later.

A hard-fought 3-2 victory over Kilmarnock was followed by another unimpressive draw against Inverness before Rangers finished the year on a high with a 4-1 drubbing of Motherwell on Boxing Day.

The January window saw the arrival of El-Hadji Diouf on loan from Blackburn Rovers as a marquee signing, while Kyle Bartley and David Healy arrived on loan deals from Arsenal and Sunderland respectively.

Rangers’ start to the new year wasn’t the most impressive as Georgios Samaras’ brace sunk them 2-0 at home in the second Old Firm derby of the season.

Victories against Hamilton and Inverness followed but another damaging 1-0 defeat away at Hearts towards the end of January threatened to derail their title challenge.

Smith’s side once again had a tough time dealing with Celtic away from home in February, as a brace from Gary Hooper helped the Hoops register a thumping 3-0 victory over their Old Firm rivals.

Rangers fought back from that defeat though, securing victories over the St. Johnstone, St. Mirren and Kilmarnock before Dundee United pulled off a 3-2 upset at Ibrox.

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That, however, proved to be Rangers’ final stumble of the campaign, and with Celtic breathing down their neck, the Gers managed to finish the season without suffering another defeat.

A 0-0 draw in the final Old Firm derby of the campaign coupled with Celtic’s shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Inverness allowed Rangers to complete a hat-trick of league triumphs.

Kenny Miller finished with 21 goals in all competitions followed by Nikica Jelavic with 16, while Steven Naismith and Kyle Lafferty also contributed with 11 apiece, as Rangers completed the domestic double with a 2-1 victory over Celtic in the Scottish League Cup.



[Image] Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic XI to face Hibernian – can Edouard keep firing?



Predicted Celtic XI to face Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership

Celtic romped home with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Partick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday and the Hoops will be strong favourites to claim all three points when they make the trip to Easter Road to face Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

Neil Lennon’s side have won each of their first six league games this season and are currently three points clear of arch-rivals Rangers atop the standings.

Hibernian are currently bottom of the table after winning only one of their first six league fixtures but Paul Heckingbottom’s side will be somewhat buoyed by their penalty shootout victory over Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup. 

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Team News

Moritz Bauer (ankle), Leigh Griffiths (thigh) and Jozo Simunovic (knee) are doubtful to make a return to the squad, while Scott Bain, Michael Johnston, Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton are all ruled out with injuries.

Neil Lennon will be expected to make a few changes to the eleven that triumphed over Partick Thistle in the League Cup.

Predicted XI

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Fraser Forster (GK)

The Southampton loanee has been a wonderful addition to Celtic’s ranks this summer and he is expected to replace Craig Gordon, who started between the sticks in the League Cup tie. 

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Hatem Abd Elhamed (RB)

The Israeli defender played at the heart of the defence in the previous game but he is likely to shift to a right-back role on Saturday to cover for the injury to Moritz Bauer, with Frimpong not expected to be amongst the starters in the league fixture.

Kristoffer Ajer (CB)

The Norwegian international didn’t have a lot to do in the 5-0 League Cup victory but he has been really impressive at the back this term.

Christopher Jullien (CB)

The Frenchman didn’t play a part in the midweek fixture but he is usually one of the first names on Lennon’s teamsheet. 

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LB)

Jonny Hayes featured at left-back on Wednesday against Partick Thistle but the Belgian continues to be the first choice in that position. 

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Scott Brown (CDM)

The veteran came on as a substitute in the League Cup tie but he is a key cog in the Hoops’ midfield and is expected to be back in the eleven on Saturday for the trip to Easter Road. 

Callum McGregor (CM)

His excellent all-round game is an indispensable asset to Celtic in the middle of the park and there are hardly any doubts over his selection. 

James Forrest (RM)

He came close to finding the net on numerous occasions in the 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock last week and the former academy graduate should be fresh to start on Saturday after being rested for the League Cup game. 

Mohamed Elyounoussi (LM)

He is yet to hit top gear at Parkhead following his loan move from Southampton but Lennon should continue to hand him regular minutes to allow him to settle down.

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Ryan Christie (CAM)

The influential playmaker wasn’t in the squad for the midweek game but he is sure to start against Hibernian this weekend. 

Odsonne Edouard (ST)

The Frenchman has been in terrific form in front of goal and Celtic will bank on him to deliver the goods once again this week.

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Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby as Gerrard’s tactics failed miserably



Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby

Celtic completely outclassed Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Odsonne Edouard’s opener in the first half and a second from substitute Jonny Hayes in injury-time ensured that the Hoops strengthened their position at the top of the table. 

Having secured qualification to the group stages of the Europa League with impressive victories in the playoffs, both the Old Firm rivals went into the game on Sunday brimming with confidence, but it was Celtic who laid down an early title marker in the first derby of the season. 

Steven Gerrard opted to leave Europa League playoff hero Alfredo Morelos on the bench, with Jerman Defoe getting the nod as the No.9 in the derby. Additionally, the Gers went in with a very narrow and compact 4-3-3 system, flooding the central areas with more players at the expense of some genuine width. 

Neil Lennon, on the other hand, brought in Hatem Abd Elhamed in place of the injured Kristoffer Ajer at right-back, with Celtic fielding a completely new look backline in the derby as compared to the previous campaign. 

It wasn’t the most aesthetic game that you would ever see and after an opening half-hour where chances were few and far between, Mikey Johnstone outsmarted Conor Goldson to set it up for Odsonne Edouard, who scored his fifth goal against Rangers to put the Hoops 1-0 up.

To say that Rangers were below-par for almost the entirety of the game would not be an understatement, as the Gers failed to muster any sort of a meaningful reply after conceding that goal. Substitutes Sheyi Ojo and Morelos somewhat improved them in the second half but it was never going to be enough to break Celtic down.

Jonny Hayes took his chance really well in the third minute of injury time before the game ended, with Jordan Jones receiving a straight card for a cynical hack on Moritz Bauer. Here are 3 key talking points from the Old Firm derby.

1. Edouard made the difference again

Odsonne Edouard’s opener at Ibrox on Sunday was the Frenchman’s fifth goal against the Gers and the second time that he scored the winner on enemy territory.

The Frenchman wasn’t always in the game but he contributed a lot with his clever touches and smart hold-up play, gratefully accepting the only clear-cut chance the fell to him in the game.

Edouard’s winner at Ibrox was reminiscent of the big-game specialism that Moussa Dembele used to showcase during his illustrious spell at Celtic and his latest goal would definitely have raised his stocks amongst the fans. 

2. Steven Gerrard’s tactical blunder and lack of energy from Rangers

Rangers’ approach to the game resembled a funnel, as Gerrard compromised some genuine width to flood the central areas of the pitch with a view to blocking the passing lanes and frustrating Celtic. 

One would have expected Gerrard to field some out-and-out pacey wingers to capitalise on Celtic’s rather unsettled backline but neither Scott Arfield nor Joe Aribo did enough to put the defenders under any real pressure. 

Defoe was largely anonymous due to a lack of supply and while substitutes Ojo and Morelos breathed life into the game, Rangers apparently never had the energy to press Celtic off the ball and get themselves back into the game. 

James Tavernier and Glen Kamara, who are usually very influential in their respective roles, looked completely off the pace, ineffective and lethargic, whilst centre-back Goldson came up with one of his worst ever performances for the Gers.

It was a combination of tired legs after a hard-fought playoff victory in the Europa League playoffs and some poor reading of the game by Gerrard that led to Rangers’ downfall on Sunday. 

3. Celtic’s backline rose to the occasion very well

The back four consisting of Elhamed, Christopher Jullien, Nir Bitton and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo exceeded all expectations and while Rangers played it into their hands to some extent with some poor tactical nous and below-par attacking play, the Celtic defenders deserve all the credit for a well-earned clean sheet.

Apart from Bitton, the other three defenders at the back had their first taste of the derby atmosphere this Sunday and Neil Lennon would have been happy to see them rise to the occasion and deliver the goods when it mattered the most.

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[Image] Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs – can the Hoops secure the win?



Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs

Celtic FC romped home to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Hearts at home in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Callum McGregor’s strike in the second half sandwiched by own goals from Christophe Berra and Craig Halkett ensured that the Hoops preserved their perfect start to the campaign. 

Celtic’s Champions League aspirations came to an end with a 5-4 aggregate defeat against Romanian giants Cluj in the third qualifying round but they have a chance to make it to the group stages of the Europa League after beating Swedish outfit AIK 2-0 away from home last week. 

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Neil Lennon’s side will be the clear favourites to make it through to the group stages, as they carry a two-goal lead to Sweden on Thursday night. 

Team News

Neil Lennon is expected to make a few changes to the eleven that played against Hearts on Sunday, with the Old Firm derby against Rangers in the waiting too. 

Celtic travel to Sweden with a few injury concerns, as Hatem Abd Elhamed, Scott Bain and Tom Rogic are expected to miss the trip. However, the manager is likely to have most of the first-team players at his disposal for selection.

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Predicted Celtic XI

Formation: 4-3-3

Fraser Forster (GK)

The towering shot-stopper was catapulted into the starting eleven against Hearts upon his return to Parkhead and he is expected to start ahead of Craig Gordon between the sticks.

Kristoffer Ajer (RB)

The Norwegian has been a real revelation at right-back in recent games and he is likely to continue in that role on Thursday. 

Christopher Jullien (CB)

The Frenchman has proven himself to be worthy of every penny for the Hoops so far this season and there is no reason why he should be left out of the away leg despite the Old Firm derby around the corner. 

Jozo Simunovic (CB)

Nir Bitton started at the back on Sunday against Hearts but the Croatian is expected to get the nod after a calm and composed display in the 2-0 first-leg victory.  

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Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LB)

The new signing excelled with his pace, energy and link-up play down the flanks in the first leg and he is expected to be handed another start on Thursday. 

Scott Brown (CM)

The veteran is usually the one who controls the game for Celtic in the middle of the park and his experience might prove to be a deciding factor in the all-important clash.

James Forrest (RAM)

One of Celtic’s most influential players over the past few years, the Scottish international is the club’s indispensable weapon down the flanks and he will be in high spirits after scoring in the 2-0 victory in the first leg. 

Callum McGregor (LAM)

The homegrown star was one of the standout performers against the Swedish opposition last week and he is expected to be one of the first names on the teamsheet this time around as well.

Ryan Christie (RW)

The attacking midfielder tormented the Swedes with his tireless running, energy and creativity in the first leg and he definitely deserves another start. 

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Mikey Johnstone (LW)

The youngster has produced some dazzling displays early in the campaign and he was virtually unplayable against AIK last week.

Odsonne Edouard (ST)

Vakoun Issouf Bayo started against Hearts but Celtic’s first-choice No.9 should be back in the starting eleven on Thursday.

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