Prepare for a competitive encounter
Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic face off at Ibrox Park on Sunday from high noon in the first Old Firm derby of the season. This will be the first meeting of the clubs at this venue with fans in attendance since September 2019, when the Hoops grabbed a surprise but deserved 2-0 win thanks to goals from Odsonne Edouard and Johnny Hayes.
Much has changed at both clubs since, with Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade – the 55th in their history – and stopping Celtic’s bid for a historic 10 in a row. With both clubs suffering a mixed start to this campaign, fans are looking forward to a competitive 90 minutes in Govan.
Unbeaten run ends at Tannadice
Last season’s Rangers title-winning team was invincible, going through the entire Premiership campaign unbeaten, taking the title from Neil Lennon’s sorry Celtic with time to spare. Fans had hoped to see that run continue deep into this season, but the players fell to defeat at Tannadice on matchday two. That game ended 1-0 to the Tangerines thanks to a winning goal scored by Jamie Robson following an uncharacteristic mix-up in the blues defence – something that has become somewhat of a feature for the champions since.
Rangers were last seen in action on Thursday night when making the trip to Armenia to play Alashkert in the Europa League play-offs where they drew 0-0. Steven Gerrard selected his squad for that trip with one eye on this game and is likely to change things up again. The home team have played three in the league, winning two and losing one. They battered Ross County 4-2 in Dingwall last week, providing the squad with a timely confidence boost ahead of the 425th Old Firm derby.
Several players were missing from Thursday’s Europa League match due to a covid scare in the camp including Gerrard, captain James Tavernier and goalkeeper Alan McGregor. It’s hoped the close contacts will return for this match.
Hoops find their form
After getting the Celtic job only after first choice manager Eddie Howe had pulled out at the eleventh hour, Ange Postecoglou suffered a difficult start to his reign in Glasgow. The former Australian national team boss struggled to get signings through the door in time for the Champions League qualifiers and was knocked out of UEFA’s flagship competition by FC Midtjylland at the earliest opportunity. They dropped into the Europa League and went to the Dutch side AZ Alkmaar on Thursday, losing 2-1 on the night but going through on aggregate.
In the league, Celtic have the same number of points as their opponents. They lost the opener against Hearts at Tynecastle before bouncing back to hammer Dundee and St Mirren at Parkhead, both by a 6-0 scoreline.
The Bhoys arrive in Govan looking to draw first blood in the fight to wrestle the trophy back from their neighbours. Japanese attacker Kyogo Furuhashi arrived in the summer had has hit the ground running, scoring four goals in three league starts.
Home side worth supporting
Their early exit to Malmo in the Champions League qualifiers proved a bitter pill to swallow for followers of the Gers. Some sections of the press in Scotland would have you believe there is a crisis at Ibrox while Celts arrive with their tails in the air, but the stats don’t back that up.
Since losing to Malmo at this venue, Gerrard’s team have played four, won three and drawn one, scoring ten goals and conceding two. In the same period, Celtic have won three and lost one scored 11 and conceded four.
The pre-match betting available on the Betfair Exchange has a Rangers win priced at 2.6213/8 with Celtic trading at 2.829/5 and the draw 3.613/5. The home advantage and backing of a capacity crowd with no Celtic fans in attendance pushes us towards a home win. The stats back that up with Rangers unbeaten against Celtic in six games.
Free-scoring match expected
Both teams head into this game in fine scoring form, but both are suspect at the back, and that should make this a fascinating match. Both teams to find the net appeals at 1.728/11 and that is favoured over no in the same market at 2.245/4.
Sticking with the stats, we note that this fixture has produced exactly two goals in four of the last five, and that may encourage backers to take under 2.5 goals at 2.0621/20. Over 2.5 goals – which would have been a winning goal in Rangers 4-1 over Celtic last time – is 1.9210/11.