Celtic vs Rangers: Preview and Prediction

Reigning Scottish Premiership champions Celtic welcome bitter Glasgow rivals Rangers at Parkhead on Saturday in the latest instalment of the Old Firm derby.

Celtic and Rangers meet in the second Old Firm showdown of the season at Parkhead on Saturday, with five points currently separating these two teams at the top of the table, although the Gers have two games in hand on their title-rivals Hoops.

The Gers’ clash against Ross County tonight was called off on Wednesday night after the Highlanders’ team bus was caught up in the chaos on the country’s roads due to major snowfall caused by Storm Gerrit.

Prior to that, Rangers continued their impressive turnaround under Philippe Clement, clinching their seventh win in a row at Motherwell last Sunday, which was a routine 2-0 victory.

They are on quite the run, which has yielded qualification for the next round of the Europa League by beating Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin Stadium. Rangers also lifted the first trophy of the Clement era with a win over Aberdeen in the Viaplay Cup final while moving within five points of league leaders Celtic.

The Celts, meanwhile, have blown what was once a commanding lead over their bitter rivals as they suffered back-to-back Premiership defeats against Kilmarnock and Hearts before getting back on track with comprehensive wins against rock-bottom Livingston and Dundee.

The last two games have been a lot more like the dominant version of Celtic, which many are familiar with. But they face a much tougher test against their Rangers. Brendan Rodgers’s troops will be looking to right their wrongs, and a victory here would see them maintain the top spot, even if Rangers were to win both games in hand.

Team News & Tactics


Cameron Carter-Vickers could potentially miss Celtic’s derby clash against Rangers this Saturday through injury. The 25-year-old was substituted during the champions’ 3-0 victory over Dundee in midweek with a hamstring injury.

Liel Abada and James McCarthy (hamstring) are not expected to return from their respective thigh concerns before the New Year rolls around. Meanwhile, Tomoki Iwata (unspecified) has been missing since the injury he sustained against Feyenoord.

Odin Thiago Holm is a significant doubt due to illness, while Reo Hatate is inching closer to a return after taking part in training this week. But the Old Firm Derby game may come too soon for him.

After bagging a brace as a substitute in midweek, Michael Johnston will be pushing to start on either wing at the expense of either Daizen Maeda or Luis Palma. Kyogo Furuhashi’s goalscoring form under Brendan Rodgers has been a bit strange at Parkhead.

The Japanese international has been asked to play a different role, drifting wide and dropping back, affecting his goalscoring form for the Hoops. He finally broke his eight-game rut in a 2-0 victory over Livingston and is set to continue up front.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Hart; Alistair Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Bernardo; Maeda, Furuhashi, Palma


Connor Goldson, who suffered a groin injury against Motherwell on Christmas Eve, will be assessed before kickoff. The same goes for Jamaican forward Kemar Roofe, who sat out of the trip to Motherwell on Christmas Eve. It is unknown as to whether he will be fit to play a part in the game.

John Lundstram took a hefty knock to his ankle against St Johnstone, and his involvement in the Old Firm seems unlikely, while Jose Cifuentes (muscle), Tom Lawrence (muscle), Danilo (knee), Nicolas Raskin (ankle), Steven Davis (ACL), Ryan Jack (unspecified), and Borna Barisic (unspecified) are all seemingly no closer to making a long-awaited comeback, having not played since October.

Todd Cantwell is a vital creative spark for Rangers, while his high-intensity pressing style and antics have made him such a fan favourite and a pantomime villain for opposition fans.

Danilo’s long-term injury is a huge blow for Philippe Clement, even if the Brazilian’s goals had dried up as of late. Thankfully for Clement, Cyriel Dessers has returned to peak form in the centre-forward position after a poor start to life in a Rangers jersey. Playing wide on the left will allow electric Abdallah Sima to run vertically, isolate his pace, and move onto attacks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Butland; Tavernier, Souttar, Balogun, Yilmaz; Dowell, Sterling, Cantwell; McCausland, Dessers, Sima

Key Stats

  • Rangers have won ten of their last 11 Premiership games.
  • Philippe Clement’s side have kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight Premiership matches.
  • Celtic have lost two of their last four league outings.
  • The visitors have won to nil in four of their last five league games.
  • Rangers have a phenomenal defensive record, conceding only eight goals in 18 matches and keeping a league-high 12 clean sheets.

Player to Watch

Abdallah Sima

Embed from Getty Images

Philippe Clement has not been gifted with resources at Ibrox, whether in terms of training time or numbers. Given the injuries to Tom Lawrence and Danilo over the last week, discontent has been naturally obvious in media briefings, with restricted alternatives taking a further impact.

Abdallah Sima was one of Clement’s most important assets at Ibrox. The striker is still thriving on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old is the league’s joint-top goalscorer with nine strikes to date and has 14 goals in all competitions. He is lightning-fast but also intelligent, making the most of the rapid speed he possesses. Rarely caught offside, he would be looking to wreck havoc in Celtic’s backline.


Celtic 1-2 Rangers

Celtic will have 60,000 fans behind them with no away fans in Parkhead due to a ticketing dispute. But momentum has certainly shifted in Rangers’ favour after a long unbeaten run. The visitors should be able to squeeze out a result against a Celtic side that has looked disjointed, vulnerable, and out-of-sorts on numerous occasions this season.

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