By Jonty Banks

18th Mar, 2023 | 9:40am

Chris Sutton pinpoints Old Firm showdown as 'do or die' moment for Rangers title chances this season

Chris Sutton has pinpointed the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on 8 April as a “do or die” moment for Michael Beale’s chances of Scottish Premiership glory with Rangers this season.

The Gers are yet to get the better of Ange Postecoglou’s side this season, losing twice and grabbing a 2-2 draw on derby day at Ibrox on the stroke of the New Year.

However, Beale’s side still have three more opportunities to reverse this form, including a Scottish Premiership clash at Celtic Park after the international break and a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on 30 April.

Former Hoops player Sutton, writing in his column for the Daily Record, labelled the fierce derby as “box office” and was puzzled by people insisting that many derbies are overkill.

He wrote: “You can’t blame them for wanting to postpone derby chat for now with plenty of football still to be played. But the pair of them will need to buckle up soon as an epic few weeks in spring are going to define the season. We’ve got three Old Firm games to look forward to, probably in the space of a month.

“Celtic Park in a couple of weeks is do or die for Rangers in terms of their Premiership chances, then we’ve got the Hampden showdown and the final clash of the campaign could be the following week at Ibrox.

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“It means the big two will collide six times this season and it’s got some people talking about overkill. Goodness knows why. These matches are box office – and this triple header will be essential viewing.”

Pivotal period

If Beale thought the pressure in the Ibrox hot seat was already at its maximum following the disappointing ViaPlay Cup final defeat to Celtic, he has experienced nothing yet.

Facing their close rivals three more times before the end of the season is a mammoth task for the Gers manager and will be a strong litmus test of the improvements his team have made since his arrival.

When the Hoops clinched the ViaPlay Cup last month, Rangers were simply played off the park.

There was a lack of ambition, but more worryingly, a lack of leadership in the cauldron-like atmosphere at Hampden Park, and this must be resurrected if Beale’s team harbour any ambitions of reversing this form.

The Gers have looked like a team going out to prove a point in recent weeks, with Nicolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell making up a new-look midfield that can hopefully get a step closer to stopping the Celtic juggernaut.

In other Rangers news, a pundit with insider information at Ibrox has shared one condition that will make Douglas Park leave the club.