Rangers vs CelticScottish Premiership, KO: 12:30 Jan 2, 2021, Ibrox
RANGERS head into the second Old Firm clash of the season knowing a victory would send them 19 points clear of Celtic and leave their first title for 10 years within touching distance.
Steven Gerrard's side have been relentless in their quest to stop Celtic's bid for 10-in-a-row, racking up 13 successive wins in the league to race clear at the top.
Their only loss all season has been to St Mirren in the League Cup, which is no mean feat given Rangers have faced the likes of Galatasaray, Benfica and Standard Liege in Europe as well as Celtic on their own patch.
That derby loss at Parkhead was the start of a horrendous Hoops run that saw them win just twice in 12 games, a slump that looked set to cost Neil Lennon his job.
But the Celtic board kept faith with their manager and have been rewarded for refusing to bow to fan pressure, with Celtic winning six in a row and completing the quadruple Treble in the process.
A third successive derby defeat would pile the pressure back on Lennon though and he needs to show lessons have been learned after being tactically out-thought by Gerrard.
How the bookies view it
It's no great surprise to see Rangers as favourites and they are 21/20 at McBookie, with Celtic a best 27/10 with SBK. There hasn't been a stalemate in the last 11 derbies and it pays 13/5 here at McBookie.
Recent head to head
Rangers have won the last two derbies, both at Parkhead, after somehow contriving to lose last season's League Cup Final to 10-man Celtic as they failed to find a way past an inspired Fraser Forster.
But Celtic won on their last trip to Ibrox, with goals from Odsonne Edouard and Jonny Hayes sealing a 2-0 victory in the first derby of last season (below).
Players to watch
Rangers skipper James Tavernier looks overpriced at 10/3 for anytime scorer at Paddy Power given he takes penalties and has netted an incredible 17 times this season.
Lennon will surely stick with Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths up front after the resumption of their partnership sparked the upsurge in form. But I'm more drawn to Ryan Christie (below) as his long-range shooting makes him good value for a goal at 11/2 with Betfred.
Anything else catches the eye?
I tipped cards in the first derby only for my prediction to be let down as Rangers strolled to victory and Celtic failed to lay a glove on them. With so much at stake in this game, I can see the challenges flying in so try betting on some bookings.
The market for total cards hasn't been priced up yet but Steven Davis and Christie look decent value for cards at 9/2 and 10/3 respectively with Bet365. A red card for any player also pays 7/4 at William Hill and has come up in three of the last four meetings.
I cashed in by backing Celtic to keep a fourth successive Premiership clean sheet against Dundee United in midweek, the only bet that came up on a bad day of punting for me in the Premiership.
But they still look suspect at the back and could be without Chris Jullien here, while Lennon has brought keeper Vasilis Barkas back in from the cold. That lack of stability at the back could hurt them here so I fancy over 1.5 Rangers goals at 21/20 with McBookie. Both teams to score also appeals and is a best 4/5 with William Hill.
Rangers vs Celtic Team News
Celtic are still without James Forrest as he recovers from an ankle injury, Jullien is also a major doubt.
Rangers midfielders, Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield are also ruled out.
Rangers predicted XI: McGregor, Barisic, Helander, Goldson, Tavernier, Davis, Kamara, Aribo, Kent, Roofe, Morelos
Celtic predicted XI: Barkas, Frimpong, Bitton, Ajer, Taylor, Soro, Christie, Turnbull, McGregor, Griffiths, Edouard
This Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic will be played on Jan 2, 2021 and kick off at 12:30. Check below for our tipsters best Rangers vs Celtic prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.
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