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Celtic vs Rangers: Light Blues look short of goals

Celtic vs Rangers Match Preview and Predictions

Celtic will have one hand on the Scottish Premier League trophy if they can avoid defeat against rivals Rangers in Sunday's Old Firm derby.

[All odds correct at time of publication]

The defending champions are 10 points clear at the top of the table and Rangers realistically need a win at Celtic Park to keep the title race alive.

Unfortunately for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard his team do not go into the match in good form and they are 17/5 underdogs to get the win they need.

Match information

When is it? Sunday 31st March

What time is kick-off? 12:00

Where is it being played? Celtic Park

Which channel is it on? Sky Sports Football

Who is the referee? Bobby Madden

Celtic vs Rangers Betting Tips

Here are our three best bets for the Old Firm game for which we also have a range of other markets available:

The lowdown

Celtic extended their lead at the top into double figures with a last-gasp 1-0 win at Dundee heading into the international break.

The visitors looked set to be frustrated by the second-bottom Taysiders until French striker Odsonne Edouard converted a James Forrest cut-back for a dramatic injury-time winner.

Celtic were already well on course for the title but Hoops manager Neil Lennon believes the pressure on his side heading into the Old Firm clash was eased by the victory.

"It is significant," said Lennon. "Not taking anything for granted but it is significant and psychologically it is huge.

"It means we don't have to win it. Ideally we would love to get over the line as quickly as possible but all the onus is on the other teams around us.

"The gap between first and second is bigger than between second and third which is again significant for us."

Celtic have now won nine and drawn one of their last 10 league matches and a home win is the obvious pick at 4/5 as the first of our Celtic vs Rangers predictions.

Feature match previews for this weekend

If you're interested in tips on our feature matches for the weekend, check out our in-depth previews below:

First goalscorer tips

Celtic's goals have been shared around this season, with Edouard leading the way with 13 but three other players have eight or more.

One of those is Scott Sinclair, who has eight goals in cup competitions to add to the nine he has netted in the league. He is often on penalty-taking duty too so we'll back Sinclair to open the scoring at 6/1.

Anytime goalscorer tips

For a more speculative bet we like the look of Scott Brown in the anytime goalscorer odds at 12/1.

The midfielder is not known for his goalscoring ability and went two years without a goal until he was on target against St Johnstone last month. Since then he has grabbed two more goals so he looks worth a small play at a big price in a fixture which he relishes.

This weekend's best bets

If you're interested in accumulators or in-play betting, check out our regular betting columns:

Where the game will be won or lost

The best chance of a Rangers win looks to be for them to try to edge a low-scoring game.

The goals have dried up for the Light Blues recently and they have managed only three goals in the last four matches, which have seen them drop points to Hibs and Kilmarnock and crash out of the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen after a replay.

Alfredo Morelos is free to play after no disciplinary action was raised following his tangle with Kilmarnock defender Kirk Broadfoot.

He slotted home his 29th goal of the season to rescue a point in that game but Gerrard is demanding more quality in attack from the rest of the team.

"We're too reliant on Alfredo right now, so other people need to step up and try and chip in," he said. "I'll do everything I can, when I can, to improve us in the final third.

"We need game changers, we need players that can be the difference when games are tight. We need more in the final third. I won't shy away from that but right now we are doing the best with what we have available."

Rangers have not left the home of their rivals with a win since October 2010 and their only other hope is that the occasion gets to the Celtic players more than the visitors.

Midfielder Steve Davis, who was in the Rangers team that came from behind to win 3-1 in this fixture nine years ago, said: "I have played in enough Old Firm games to know that momentum and form go out of the window.

"We need to put in a similar performance to what the boys did just before new year. Celtic are obviously high on confidence. It's up to us to show we can compete, go there and try to get a result."

The previous two Old Firm games this season ended in 1-0 home wins and we're not expecting a feast of goals on Sunday so we'll add under 2.5 goals at 17/20 to our Celtic vs Rangers betting tips.

Lennon's comment that Celtic do not need to win the game and the lack of firepower in the Rangers team means the home team may be tempted to sit back and protect what they have if they get in front.

With that in mind we'll complete our Celtic vs Rangers preview by backing the Hoops to win 1-0 again at 6/1.

Team news

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney is doubtful with a calf injury following a reaction during training so will be assessed before the game. Midfielders Tom Rogic and Olivier Ntcham are back in training after knee injuries and defenders Dedryck Boyata and Mikael Lustig are fit. Midfielder Ryan Christie (hamstring) and goalkeeper Craig Gordon (knee) remain on the sidelines, with Eboue Kouassi, Daniel Arzani and Leigh Griffiths all still out for various reasons.

Rangers left-back Borna Barisic is out of the Old Firm derby after suffering a hamstring injury while playing for Croatia. But manager Steven Gerrard is optimistic Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield will both be back after returning to training following calf problems while Gareth McAuley is available after a hamstring issue. Long-term absentees Jamie Murphy and Graham Dorrans (both knee) are continuing their rehabilitation work.

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

Rangers must throw caution to the wind as they seek the win they need to gain ground on the leaders but Celtic have the quality to find the holes in their defence and although we can see the Light Blues finding the net, a home win should still be the outcome.

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Andrew McDermott
@a_mcdermott in Football