Rangers vs CelticScottish Premiership, KO: 12:00 Sep 1, 2019, Ibrox
ON a weekend where several derbies will be contested throughout the continent, no clash will be more captivating than the Old Firm derby that comes from Glasgow at high noon on Sunday.
Rangers revival under Steven Gerrard has reignited the most intense local rivalry in world football and for the first time in a long time the Scottish Premiership title could be closely contested.
The bookmakers certainly believe that the first Old Firm derby of the season will be a tight tussle and after Celtic were turned over twice at Ibrox last season Rangers start this encounter as slight favourites at 7/5 (Unibet)
However, if you fancy a Neil Lennon's men to go into the Bears backyard and bag all three points then the 23/10 (Bet 365) for Celtic to triumph is sure to tempt plenty of punters on the green side of Glasgow.
Seven derbies have come and gone since there was a share of the spoils in this fixture and a derby day draw on Sunday is available at 12/5 (BetVictor)
Draws are not something either of these rivals have become accustomed to in the early weeks of the new season with both teams winning all three of their respective Scottish Premiership matches to date.
What's more these familiar foes have been finding the net with fluency with both sides having scored an imposing 24 goals between them in the opening three rounds of top-flight fixtures.
The Bhoys have bagged 15 of that combined total and have also been scoring freely in their European assignments – Lennon's men make the short trip across the city coming off the back of a stunning 4-1 win in Sweden against AIK which sealed a place in the Europa League group stages.
Rangers on the other hand had to be resolute to remain in Europe after a late late Alfredo Morelos goal was needed to edge past a well-schooled Legia Warsaw side.
Goals were flowing for Gerrard's Gers in the early weeks of the season , however the Ibrox side have been winning with solidity rather than style lately, and go into this clash pursuing a fifth consecutive clean-sheet.
Yet, the same can't be said for Scottish champions Celtic who's backline has been breached 10 times in their last seven outings – a run during which only one shut-out has been secured – and given how red hot Rangers have been at home recently a home goal here is to be expected.
However, since Lennon was re-appointed on a permanent basis Celtic have hit the back of the net in all of their competitive contests to date and as such I expect the Hoops to be on the goal hunt in Govan.
Both Legia Warsaw and St Mirren passed up guilt edged chances in recent encounters with Rangers, however Celtic won't be so wasteful, and despite only landing in three of the last 10 derbies, backing both teams to score on Sunday appeals at 4/5 (William Hill)
In conjunction with that I also like the look of the 10/11 (Betfred) on offer for Celtic to score one or more goals and to have four or more corners.
In considering who may get on the scoresheet Celtic's James Forrest is an enticing 4/1 (Unibet) to score anytime and Ryan Christie is an eye-catching 25/1 (William Hill) to score from outside the penalty area.
The Colombian forward has more cards than goals in this fixture – he is 47/20 (Unibet) to be carded again – and bookings are all but guaranteed when the Old Firm get together.
Bobby Madden has been given the thankless task of trying to control this battle and despite this fixtures fiery reputation, only five red cards have been brandished in in the last 15 clashes – another red on Sunday is best priced at 23/10 (UniBet)
Madden averaged almost 3.5 cards per game in 23 Scottish Premiership outings last term and should be busy taking names on Sunday.
Celtic captain Scott Brown is the market leader with most firms to be cautioned, which is hardly surprising after being booked in four of the last five derbies.
Furthermore, the Hoops skipper collected a card on average every 2.5 games in the top flight last season so all things considered value could lie in backing the veteran midfielder to be carded at 7/5 (Unibet) in what is the most significant Old Firm in many a year.
In considering who will seize the initiative in the title race – this is a tough one to call – as this meeting marks each respective sides toughest test to date this season.
Rangers have only been turned over once on their own turf in 21 games, however treble Treble winners Celtic undoubtedly represent the biggest threat to the Gers formidable home record.
The Old Firm derby is notoriously difficultly to predict, and if pushed I would look to find an an angle that incorporates Rangers to avoid defeat, however, as discussed, my focus will be on goals and cards in what is sure to be a pulsating spectacle.
This Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic will be played on Sep 1, 2019 and kick off at 12:00