After nine years of Celtic dominance followed by Rangers’ quick march to the title last term, this time around it really appears as though the race will go down right to the wire.
Only three points separate the Glaswegian giants, with Celtic enjoying top spot, though the Hoops do hold a considerably better goal difference having both scored the most and conceded the fewest goals this term.
In fact, Celtic’s attack has actually been underperforming, as on expected goals they should be 13.3 better off. They’ve also bagged two or more in 11 of their past 13 away league games, emerging victorious in each of those same 11 trips.
However, Rangers can point to an incredible home record having won 31 of 35 unbeaten league games at Ibrox since the start of last season, registering 25 clean sheets, including win to nil results in eight of nine under Giovanni van Bronckhorst to date.
There’s little room for error and Rangers find themselves in second place despite only losing twice all season, with one of those a surprise result away at Dundee Utd on gameweek two, while the other saw them humiliated 3-0 at Parkhead in the most recent Old Firm derby.
However, they have been prone to the odd stalemate against teams they would normally expect to beat, drawing seven of their 31 games overall.
Both Teams To Score (No)
Given the stakes, a stalemate here would perhaps come as no surprise, though it should be noted that only one of the last 17 head-to-heads going back to the start of 2018 has ended level.
Rangers will take some considerable encouragement from the fact this game takes place at Ibrox, where they’ve won six of the last seven meetings between the sides, but whichever way it swings this should prove a close contest.
At least one team has failed to score in 14 of 19 head-to-heads since 2017/18, including both encounters this term. Nine of 14 since 2018/19 have finished either 1-0 or 2-0, so expect a much closer result compared to the last meeting in February.
Although Rangers will point to home advantage as a decisive factor, Giovanni van Bronckhorst has been dealt a hammer blow with star striker Alfredo Morelos sent home early from international duty.
The Colombian has since been spotted back in Glasgow on crutches and could well miss the entire run-in, and it’s worth remembering that he was absent when the Gers were thrashed at Parkhead.
Celtic To Win And Under 2.5 Goals
Ange Postecoglou has far better news in the forward department as Kyogo Furuhashi has been out since December with a hamstring injury, but has returned to training and may make the bench here.
The Japanese international won’t be risked from the start unnecessarily, especially with fellow summer signing Giorgos Giakoumakis finding his feet in his absence, as well as fellow countryman Daizen Maeda impressing since arriving in January, but will no doubt provide an enviable option to bring on should he make the cut.
Although Ibrox has been a reliable fortress for Rangers, momentum certainly appears to be swinging behind the visitors, who are now unbeaten in 31 games domestically (W27-D4).
In addition, the absence of Morelos could leave the hosts a little blunt in attack, with the Colombian having provided eight goals and four assists from his last 13 league appearances, leaving the visitors a more appealing price heading into this crunch encounter.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE (NO)
CELTIC TO WIN AND UNDER 2.5 GOALS
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