Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Date: 31st December 2016
Live on Sky Sports 1
Rangers’ mini run of wins came to an end at St Johnstone while Celtic edged even closer to seasonal infallibility.
Their eighteenth win in nineteen league matches was their fourteenth in a row. In all domestic competitions they have played twenty-two games winning twenty-one times while remaining unbeaten in Scotland.
One of those other games was against Rangers in the League Cup semi final. Celtic won that 1-0 thanks to a very late Moussa Dembele strike. But don’t let the lateness of the goal or the tightness of the score fool you.
The eventual League Cup winners were utterly dominant in that match. In some ways they were even more dominant than in the 5-1 victory at Celtic Park a few months earlier. That beating probably had an affect on Rangers and influenced their set up on the most recent occasion.
The game was won in the midfield where Celtic took total control of the game. It has become a bit of a problem area for Rangers. So much so that Mark Warburton experimented with a 3-5-2 at St Johnstone to get an extra foothold in that part of the field. It worked for a time before another defensive lapse gifted St Johnstone a goal and a foothold in the game.
But against a Celtic midfield with Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong in the form of their lives it may take more than an extra body in midfield. Particularly as that would leave the defence short with Leigh Griffiths (or Moussa Dembele) and Scott Sinclair just waiting to feed off the slightest sniff of a chance.
Alternatively they could lighten their attack and hope for something against a defence that has kept ten clean sheets in their last fifteen league matches. Whatever way you break it down it looks a daunting prospect for the home side.
Any Hope For Rangers?
The only thing counting in Rangers’ favour is home advantage. Mark Warburton has never lost a home league game at Ibrox. That’s a record he’ll be keen to maintain. But he has never played against a side miles ahead in quality, ability, development, movement, organisation etc.
A lot of people keep talking about how this will be Celtic’s stiffest test. But they’re wrong. Picking up points in Germany and at Man City in the Champions League were stiffer and more creditable.
This is Rangers stiffest test, not Celtic’s. Whatever happens in this game it will tell us a lot more about Rangers than Celtic.
RANGERS V CELTIC BETTING TIPS AND PREDICTIONS BEST BETTING ODDS
Celtic are favourites at 1.8 (4/5) with William Hill. That price is now round about what it should be but still worth considering. Rangers are available at 4.8 (19/5) with Betfair while McBookie are best price for a draw at 3/1.
Both teams to score looks short at 1.67 (4/6) with bet365. Both teams to score NO at 2.3 (13/10) with Marathon Bet looks a better option.
Although goals do look likely the prices are restrictive. Under 2.5 goals at 2.2 (6/5) can be considered.
But taking everything into consideration it’s hard to ignore Celtic even though their price has shortened drastically.
Both teams have scored in 1 of Celtic's last 5 with 2 games seeing +2.5 goals.
Both teams have scored in 3 of Rangers' last 5 but only 1 from 10 at home.
Head To Head Stats
Celtic have won 3 out of 4 meetings in the last two years including both meetings this season.
Rangers won on penalties in the Scottish Cup semi-final last season.
@ 1.8 (4/5)
with William Hill
Scottish Football Tips Star Rating Explained
If you must have a bet this is probably the best one available.
This is a coin flip. Likely to lose as much as it wins.
There is something approaching value in this bet. Your call.
Value to be had. Should be taken on.
Must bet. Screams value.