Saturday, June 25

Celtic v Rangers: Ramsey and Rangers to burst Bhoys’ bubble

Celtic v Rangers
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

The scene is set

The rearranged New Year’s Old Firm Derby will be played on Wednesday evening at a capacity Celtic Park as the Glasgow rivals battle for supremacy in the Scottish Premiership. Rangers are current leaders, but two draws in their last three have allowed Celtic to cut the difference to just two points.

The Bhoys enter with home advantage, better recent form and confidence in the ranks following four wins on the bounce. The Gers are out to hold their position and know that the pressure is on after dropping four points since the winter break.

There’s all to play for in Glasgow and even more to bet on at Betfair.

Celts find their form

Celtic start game 24 of the season in second place with 17 wins, three draws and three defeats, scoring 47 goals and conceding 13. They have won each of their last four league matches, including a hard-fought 1-0 over Dundee United at Parkhead on Saturday.

Liel Abada scored the game’s only goal in stoppage time after his team had been reduced to 10 men. Nir Bitton was sent off on 81 minutes for a second bookable offence and will now miss the derby.

Manager Ange Postecoglou admitted in his post-match interview that his team wasn’t at their best but found a way to win. The former Australian national team coach will be after more of the same fight from his squad on Wednesday evening.

The boss will have to make do without Bitton following that sending off, added to a missing list that already includes captain Calum McGregor, Kyogo Furuhashi, David Turnbull, Tom Rogic and Daizen Maeda.

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Bears must bounce back

Rangers made headlines on transfer deadline day with the sensational signing of former Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey on loan from Juventus. The 31-year-old midfielder arrived in Govan, putting pen to paper on a remarkable deal that will keep him at the club until the end of the season when Rangers hope to be league winners with a place in the Champions League secured.

Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is unbeaten in all competitions since replacing Steven Gerrard.

Still, he has been disappointed with his team’s performances since returning from a re-shuffled winter break. Gers eased past Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup at Ibrox but were held to a 1-1 by Aberdeen at Pittodrie in their league return.

That draw was followed by an unconvincing 1-0 win at home to Livingston before leaving Dingwall with a point on Saturday after a 3-3 draw. GvB told reporters he was not used to seeing his defence so sloppy and told players they cannot afford to concede cheap goals.

There have been calls from some fans to top drop goalkeeper Alan McGregor after the 40-year-old was at fault for two of Ross County’s three goals, but the Rangers number one will be difficult to shift.

He has made a career out of driving Gers to success and has proven himself reliable in this fixture on several occasions. Expect to see McGregor, Conor Goldson, and the rest of the Rangers backline much more organised than they were on Saturday.

Like their opponents, Rangers also have a few first-team regulars missing. Star striker Alfredo Morelos is on international duty with Colombia, so won’t be available. Kemar Roofe or Cedric Itten will be hoping to fill the void left from Morelos, who scored some great goals against Celtic last season during his team’s charge to the title. Ramsay could go straight into the squad.

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Home win favourite

Celtic have home advantage and momentum heading into this match after digging out a win on Saturday. They may be without a few key players, including their captain and vice-captain, but that doesn’t deter backers. Celtic are 2.265/4 favourites on the Betfair Exchange.

Gers haven’t lost to Celtic in the league since September 2019 at Ibrox and haven’t lost at Parkhead since March of the same year.

Rangers have been unconvincing since the winter break, but a win here would put them back on track while killing the feel-good factor across the city. Rangers are much bigger than they should be at 3.65, given Celtic’s absentees. The draw can be backed at 3.412/5.

The last two Old Firm derbies played at this venue have produced exactly two goals, a 1-1 draw and 2-0 Rangers victory. Stick with that and play under 2.5 goals at 1.834/5 which makes more sense than trying the over 2.5 goals at 1.991/1.

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