Celtic vs Rangers: Top spot and bragging rights beckon for hosts
It is not only the bragging rights of a victory in the Old Firm derby that will spur Celtic to beat Rangers, but also the knowledge that a win will see them leapfrog their great rivals to go top of the Scottish Premier League.
Celtic have won their last eight games in the SPL to move to within one point of Rangers in the league standings, having been as far as 15 points off the pace back in November.
Given their impressive form in the past six weeks, Celtic’s odds of 1/1 to beat Rangers look worth taking advantage of.
The return of Emilio Izaguirre will provide an additional boost to Celtic as the Honduran defender has been sidelined since suffering a broken ankle in August.
In Rangers’ favour is that they have won half of the last 20 Old Firm derbies and also secured a 4-2 victory in the last meeting between the pair back in October.
Ally McCoist will drum into the players the importance of maintaining top spot in the table and Rangers may prove overpriced at 3/1 to win at Parkhead.
The draw, which would favour Rangers more than Celtic, can be backed at 11/5.
A big positive for Rangers is that Lee McCulloch can play despite his straight red card in the recent defeat to St Mirren because of the decision to appeal against the dismissal and this appeal cannot be heard until early January.
As is typically the case, the first goal will be especially valuable in the showdown, especially as Celtic have lost their last 12 meetings with Rangers where they have conceded first.
However, they have not been behind at half time in the last eight derbies and these two facts could offer some insight on the HT/FT market.
The 12/5 that Celtic lead at both half time and full time looks the pick, but punters fancying Rangers could do worse than backing the draw at half time and Rangers at full time at a lengthy 8/1.