3 factors which prove Rangers v Celtic can be game of the weekend

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The Glasgow giants meet for the sixth time this season at Ibrox, with Rangers looking to avenge last weekend’s 2-0 Scottish Cup Semi-Final defeat. For their part, Brendan Rodgers’ men are desperate to maintain their unbeaten status in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

And on top of that, there’s plenty more reason to predict a fascinating encounter between the pair. That’s because…

Dembele’s deputies need to shine

It’s fair to say Celtic have had very few issues this season, but losing Moussa Dembele to injury in last weekend’s clash with the Gers is undoubtedly a real blow. Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair did the business at Hampden Park, but can they – or anyone else in the Hoops squad – make the difference at Ibrox?

Leigh Griffiths is likely to start in the Frenchman’s absence – but despite playing over 300 games in Scottish football, he’s only featured in this fixture a handful of times and has never found the net at Ibrox.

He’ll be looking to end that streak, and could well be paired with young prodigy Jack Aitchison – with the 17-year-old, who featured against Partick Thistle earlier this month, looking to add to his solitary senior goal.

Oh, and the Gers also have 24-goal Sinclair to deal with. So we don’t reckon they’ll be breathing a sight of relief just yet. Although…

Gers home streak will take some breaking

Rangers may have struggled for consistency on the road, but they’ve been imperious in Govan. Pedro Caixinha’s men have won 11 and drawn two of their last 14 at Ibrox. And having narrowly lost 2-1 to the Bhoys here back in December, there’s reason to believe this will be another close affair.

Additionally, while Celtic have undoubtedly dominated the Old Firm battle this season, none of the last five meetings have been won by more than two goals, while the Gers took a point at Parkhead back in March.

In short, expect plenty of fingernail-biting from both sets of fans.

Can the boys become men?

When Ladbrokes News caught up with former Celtic legend Andy Walker earlier this week, he told us that there’s “nothing better than being thrown in at the deep end [of an Old Firm game] as a talented young player”, and we think the respective managers may agree.

Aitchison looks likely to feature for the Hoops, while Kouassi Eboue could also make his bow in this fixture. As for the Gers, young talents like Miles Beerman and David Bates will be keen to boost their reputations this time around, following a difficult day at Hampden.

From Paul Gascoigne to Moussa Dembele, players on each side of the divide have become overnight heroes following goals in this fixture. The question is, could there be another new idol after the final whistle blows on Saturday?

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.