Preview: Celtic vs. Rangers

Preview: Celtic vs. Rangers

The latest instalment of the Old Firm derby takes place at Parkhead on Saturday lunchtime, as Glaswegian giants Celtic and Rangers lock horns for a top-of-the-table clash in the Scottish Premiership.

While Ange Postecoglou is seeking to claim his third derby triumph of the season with the Hoops, Michael Beale is searching for his first as Gers head coach.

Since playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Rangers at Ibrox on January 2, Celtic have won each of their last 15 matches across all competitions, including last weekend’s 2-0 victory away against Ross County.

A converted penalty kick from Jota in the third minute of first-half stoppage time broke the deadlock in Dingwall, before a stunning strike in the fifth minute of second-half added-on time from left-back Alexandro Bernabei – his first goal since joining the club last summer – ensured the Hoops picked up maximum points for the 28th time in 30 matches this season.

Postecoglou’s men are showing no signs of slipping up and they still boast a nine-point advantage at the top of the table over rivals Rangers in second, and securing just four more victories from their final eight games would see the current holders crowned champions for the 53rd time.

It is fair to say that Celtic have enjoyed playing in front of their home supporters this season, as they have won all 15 Premiership matches at Parkhead, scoring 47 goals and conceding only nine.

Spirits are understandably high within the Celtic camp at present and considering they are unbeaten in the last five top-flight Old Firm derbies, Postecoglou and co will fancy their chances of putting Rangers to the sword on Saturday and all but ending their slim hopes of climbing to the summit.

Rangers have been attempting to chase down their Glaswegian rivals at the top of the Premiership table all season, winning each of their last 10 league matches – eight of which by at least a two-goal margin – to no avail.

The Gers secured a routine 2-0 victory at Ibrox against basement club Dundee United last weekend, with Bayern Munich loanee Malik Tillman netting a brace to increase his goal tally for the season to 10 in the Premiership.

Beale has won 18 of his 20 matches in charge of Rangers across all competitions, and the two games in which his side failed to win were both against Celtic, with the aforementioned 2-2 league draw at the beginning of this year followed by a 2-1 defeat in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park at the end of February.

Rangers have won all eight of their away league games under Beale, scoring 23 goals and conceding only seven, but the Gers have struggled to come out on top at Parkhead over the years as they have won only two of their last 16 visits to Celtic across all tournaments, losing 10 times and drawing the other four.

With no away fans allowed to attend the Old Firm derby following a mutual agreement between the two clubs, Rangers will be required to motivate themselves for Saturday’s crunch match at Parkhead, and Beale is aware that only a victory can realistically keep their slim dreams of knocking Celtic off their perch alive.

Celtic Scottish Premiership form:

Celtic form (all competitions):

Rangers Scottish Premiership form:

Rangers form (all competitions):

We say: Celtic 3-1 Rangers
While the pressure in on both sides to come out on top in the Old Firm derby, the onus is on Rangers to deliver the good when it matters on their rivals’ patch if they are keep their slim title hopes alive.

The Gers pose the biggest threat to Celtic in the Premiership, but the Hoops have been flawless at Parkhead this term and the reigning champions should have enough quality in their side to claim maximum points, taking a huge step towards lifting the title.

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