Rangers V Celtic: 10 Reasons the Hoops Have Been Left Behind in Old Firm Battle

Colin Stone@Colin__StoneContributor IIINovember 17, 2011

Rangers V Celtic: 10 Reasons the Hoops Have Been Left Behind in Old Firm Battle

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    It may only be November, but Rangers are already 12 points clear of main rivals Celtic in the race for the Scottish Premier League title.

    Ally McCoist's team remain unbeaten and have looked impregnable since their opening day 1-1 draw with Hearts.

    But on the other side of the city, Neil Lennon's men have coughed and spluttered their way through the opening 13 games and are currently on level points with Motherwell.

    However, the current points deficit is not the only reason why Celtic are falling behind their arch-enemies.

    Let's take a look.

Rangers' Defence

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    Romanian giant Dorin Goian and USA captain Carlos Bocanegra have formed a more than formidable centre-back partnership for the Gers.

    The two defenders were brought in by Ally McCoist in August and have been arguably the rookie manager's best signings yet.

    Rangers fans are hoping clubs from down south don't take notice of their impressive defensive pairing.

Nikica Jelavic

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    Rangers' star man fired Croatia to Euro 2012 last Tuesday as his country progressed at the expense of Turkey, and the imposing frontman is in a rich vein of form for his club too.

    Neil Lennon can only look on in wonder as his strikers of Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes fail to match the high standards set by the £13m-rated Croatian, who claimed in May that Manchester United wanted to sign him.

    Ally McCoist will be praying that he holds onto Jelavic for the foreseeable future.

Rangers Hold the Psychological Edge

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    Ever since Rangers' emphatic 4-2 win over Celtic in mid-September, the Hoops have crumbled.

    A victory in the Old Firm derby adds up to more than just points.

    Since that fateful day at Ibrox, McCoist's side have tripled their advantage over Lennon's men and this could be stretched even further before the two teams meet again.

Georgios Samaras

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    The big Greek is one of the worst footballers in recent Hoops history.

    To the bewilderment of many Celtic fans, Lennon persists with the inconsistent forward, who only scored 12 goals in 63 goals during an ill-fated spell at Manchester City.

    If "Big Sammy" keeps starting, Celtic's performance in the final third will continue to be hindered. 

Neil Lennon's Relative Inexperience

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    This is only Lennon's second full season, so he may be forgiven for being so far behind in the title race.

    McCoist spent years under the tutelage of Walter Smith, one of the greatest managers of all time, and has continued where the Scottish legend left off.

    Perhaps Celtic's failings could be down to the inexperience of their boss?

Celtic's Players

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    But maybe it's down to some of the players not giving their all to the cause?

    Neil Lennon certainly felt this way in a recent interview after another draw at home.

    If some of the squad continue to be "passengers," Celtic will never catch up on their arch-rivals in the race for the title.

Rangers' Consistency

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    It's been an excellent season for the Gers so far.

    The goals have flowed, the defence has been rock-steady, the midfield has been impressive and the manager has kept a cool head.

    You couldn't say any of those things for Celtic.

Celtic's European Involvement

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    It's known as "the European hangover."

    It usually occurs on the weekend after a European exertion, where the side in question play poorly in their league match and often draw or lose.

    With Celtic still in Europa League contention, they could continue to drop points for at least the next month.

    Rangers have no such worries.

Celtic's Lack of a Leader

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    Steven Davis has been instrumental in everything good that Rangers have done this term.

    The diminutive Northern Irishman has improved with every season, and this one has been no exception, with the midfielder controlling the play, spraying passes across the pitch and becoming the focal point of the team.

    But in the east end of Glasgow, Lennon's slapdash side have no such leader.

Rangers Are Confident

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    Nikica Jelavic recently told Scottish broadcaster STV that his side had the league in the bag already.

    Ex-Rangers striker Kenny Miller also suggested that McCoist could sell his star man Jelavic and still win the title.

    This is the kind of confidence being exuded by everyone in and around Ibrox—and as the points gap at the top increases, so does the positivity.

    Celtic are going to have to pull out all the stops if they are to stop the Rangers' machine from rolling on.

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