Rangers will be aiming to get one over arch-rivals Celtic when they lock horns in the Old Firm derby at the Ibrox Stadium on Sunday noon in the Scottish Premiership.

Having shattered Celtic’s dreams of a tenth-consecutive Scottish Premiership title triumph, newly-crowned champions Rangers will be aiming to rub salt into their rivals’ wounds when the two teams face off in the Old Firm derby on Sunday.

Rangers, led by Steven Gerrard, brought an end to Celtic’s hegemony in the Scottish top-flight, going on to lift their first league title in eleven years. It has been a hugely memorable campaign for the Light Blues even though they crashed out of the Scottish Cup quarter-finals last time out following a penalty shootout defeat to St. Johnstone.

With just three games left to be played in the season, Gerrard & co. will be hoping to end the campaign on a high by protecting their unbeaten record, while also breaking the 100-point barrier, of which they are currently seven shy.

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Celtic, meanwhile, will be playing for pride after what has been a disappointing campaign which is set to finish without any silverware.Indeed, having yielded the league title to Rangers, the Hoops had also crashed out of the domestic cup competitions in the early stages, all of which eventually led to the sacking of Neil Lennon.

Interim manager John Kennedy will now hope to see through the season without any more slip-ups, what with the team having failed to win in their last two matches in all competitions, while also pushing to hand their rivals the first league defeat of the 2020/21 term.

The two teams have already clashed four times in the 2020/21 campaign, thrice in the league and once in the Scottish Cup, with Rangers beating Celtic on three occasions while the remaining fixture ended in a draw. Ahead of the latest Old Firm derby this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Rangers

Rangers have been dealt an injury blow in the defensive department as Filip Helander will miss the rest of the season after picking up injury in the cup defeat against St. Johnstone. He joins fellow defenders Leon Balogun and Nikola Katic out on the sidelines while Scott Arfield is also set to miss the remaining three matches of the 2020/21 term due to an ankle issue. Ryan Jack also remains unavailable for selection.

Steven Gerrard ought to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor. Connor Goldson is a certain starter at the heart of the defence but Helander’s unavailability opens up a spot for January signing Jack Simpson to make his Old Firm debut on Sunday. James Tavernier and Borna Barisic are undisputed starters in goal and will charge up their respective flanks to offer attacking support relentlessly.

Steven Davis will sit at the base of the Gers’ midfield and look to break up attacks while Glen Kamara, who has been linked with Arsenal, will offer him defensive support and cover for the full-backs when they push forward. Joe Aribo ought to be third man in middle, who will have the license to push forward and make things happen in the final third.

Ianis Hagi and Ryan Kent ought to be the two wide players, although both of them will regularly look to cut inside and operate near the edge of the box, leaving spaces for the full-backs to run into. Star striker Alfredo Morelos ought to be the man spearheading the attack for the Scottish champions on Sunday noon.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Simpson, Barisic; Aribo, Davis, Kamara; Hagi, Morelos, Kent

Celtic

Celtic, meanwhile, have been handed a double injury boost as wingers James Forrest and Mikey Johnston are back in the squad after recovering from their respective problems. Defender Christopher Jullien, though, remains a long-term absentee. It will be a memorable occasion for Celtic captain Scott Brown, who is set to play his last Old Firm derby as he is set to join Aberdeen at the end of the current season.

John Kennedy should set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Scott Bain. Kristoffer Ajer is a certain starter at the heart of the outgoing champions’ defence where he will have Stephen Welsh as his partner. The duo ought to be flanked by Jonjoe Kenny and Greg Taylor on the right and left sides, respectively, although Diego Laxalt is an option in place of the latter.

Captain Scott Brown should man the central midfield region where he will look to keep a check on Joe Aribo’s forward movement. He will have Callum McGregor as his partner, who will be more of a box-to-box presence, along with David Turnbull, who on paper should slot in as the No. 10 but is likely to play a tad bit deeper when the hosts are in possession.

Despite Forrest and Johnston’s availability, the duo is only likely to be used as substitutes later in the game meaning Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi continue on the flanks from where they will look to create chances for star forward Odsonne Edouard.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bain; Kenny, Welsh, Ajer, Taylor; Brown, McGregor; Christie, Turnbull, Elyounoussi; Edouard

Key Stats

  • Rangers are unbeaten in four league meetings with Celtic (W3 D1), including three this season (W2 D1). The Gers last avoided defeat in every Old Firm league derby in a season in 1999-2000 under Dick Advocaat (P4 W3 D1 L0).
  • After winning four consecutive league matches at Ibrox from 2016 to 2018, Celtic have since lost three of their most recent four away league games at Rangers (W1).
  • In all competitions, Rangers have won four of their five home games against Celtic under Steven Gerrard (L1), keeping a clean sheet in each such win.
  • Celtic are winless in three away league outings (D2 L1); they last went longer without a league win on the road in May 2013, a run of six under Neil Lennon.
  • Rangers’ James Tavernier (11 goals, nine assists) and Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard (16 goals, four assists) have been directly involved in more goals than any other players in this season’s Scottish Premiership (both 20).

Player to Watch

Odsonne Edouard

Despite Celtic’s disappointing season when compared to the lofty standards that they have set in recent years, Odsonne Edouard has enjoyed a fruitful campaign on a personal level, producing a return of 20 goals and 6 assists from 37 matches across all competitions. The 23-year-old is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Hoops and is bound for a summer exit and there is no shortage of suitors for him.

Indeed, Premier League bigwigs Arsenal and Leicester City are among the clubs that are keeping an eye out for him and a strong end to the current campaign will further enhance his chances of him earning a lucrative move down south come summer. And, he will be hoping to do just that in the remaining three games, starting off with the Old Firm derby.

Prediction

Rangers 2-1 Celtic

Celtic will be gunning to stop their Old Firm rivals from going the entire season without a defeat. However, they have not won in their last two matches and have failed to get the better of the Gers on four occasions this term already. Rangers, meanwhile, will be hoping to take another step towards enjoying an Invincible league season, having not lost any of their 35 outings in the Premiership till date.

The absence of Filip Helander and the resultant introduction of Jack Simpson for a high-pressure derby could leave them suspect at the back. But they have enough ammunition of their own to hurt the dodgy Celtic defence. That is why, The Hard Tackle is predicting a 2-1 win for Steven Gerrard & co.

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