Celtic v Rangers Old Firm Match Preview
The first Old Firm derby of the Scottish Premiership season is an early one this year. Matchday 4 of the footballing calendar north of the border on 2nd September 2018 sees champions Celtic host fierce city rivals Rangers.
Celtic Park is the venue as new Gers boss Steven Gerrard pits his wits against Brendan Rodgers. The Hoops may have had it all their own way in recent years, but the playing field is gradually levelling. Rangers fans are hoping that the appointment of the former Liverpool midfield maestro will be the catalyst to finally bring the true sporting rivalry back to this fixture. Shortly after Christmas, on 29th December 2018, Rangers will host the return derby with Celtic the visitors at Ibrox.
The Battle For Scottish Football Bragging Rights
Rangers haven’t beaten Celtic since 2010 and despite the dominance of Scottish football of the latter in recent years, the league honours are still fairly even. The Gers have notched 159 wins in Old Firm clashes, five more than their old foe. But recent history in the derby is firmly in the green-and-white camp with seven straight victories in a row. After Celtic's recent dominance in the fixture, you can get odds of 7/4* for Celtic to win to nil with Bet UK's sports betting feature.
Celtic claimed the win in all but one of the five fixtures between the two teams last season. A trio of victories in the Premiership was added to a further win in the Scottish FA Cup. December’s game at Parkhead saw the pair play out a hard-fought, goalless draw.
Rangers ended the season in third place in Scotland’s top flight, their second successive finish behind Celtic and Aberdeen since returning to the Premiership. The Gers were still only six points behind the eventual champions by the time the third Old Firm game rolled around in March, but Brendan Rodgers' side finished strongly to complete the season 12 points ahead of Rangers.
Gerrard versus Rodgers
Rangers are already deep into the opening phases of their Europa League qualifying campaign with Gerrard given little respite as the fixtures come thick and fast. A trip to Aberdeen on the first day of the season was a fiery enough welcome to the Scottish Premiership. In his first coaching role since hanging up his boots, this game against Celtic is another intriguing early test of his credentials. Think Gerrard can get off to a good start in the Old Firm? Rangers to win against Celtic is currently 17/4* at Bet UK's online sportsbook.
In the opposing dugout, Brendan Rodgers may only be embarking on his third season at Celtic but already the Northern Irishman has seen it all and done it all in Scottish football. Two league titles, two FA Cup final wins and a brace of League Cup winners' medals is a decent haul, but the 45-year-old is all too aware that domestic dominance is the minimum that Bhoys fans expect nowadays.
A strong Rangers makes for stronger Scottish football and these two clubs really do need each other. Rodgers has spoken of his quest to push Celtic further and improve their performance in European football contests. Greater competition in the league from an old foe can only help. Given Celtic's exit from the Champions League in the play off rounds, competition from Rangers can only help.
Key Personnel On The Pitch When Rangers Play Celtic
With that in mind, Celtic moved quickly to make striker Odsonne Édouard’s stint at Parkhead a permanent one following a successful season on loan from European football giants Paris Saint-Germain. Australian playmaker Tom Rogic was also tied down on a long-term deal before he jetted off to the World Cup, but Rodgers continues to make it clear that his priority is to keep honing the developing young players he has at the club.
Meanwhile, Gerrard embarked on a busy summer in his new role, snapping up former Liverpool full-back John Flanagan with midfielder Ovie Ejaria also arriving from Anfield on loan. The Scouse connection has already proven to be key to the new boss’s transfer dealings.
There are some interesting match-ups on the pitch to watch out for. The two men battling it out to be the Scottish international goalkeeper will be at opposing ends. Celtic’s Craig Gordon has typically got the nod when free from injury, but Allan McGregor signing for Rangers should intensify the competition between the two to be Scotland's number one.
Midfield will be where the true battle lies, however. Scott Brown has long been crowned king of the middle in Old Firm clashes but Scott Arfield’s arrival at Rangers threatens to dethrone the Celtic captain. The Canada international arrived at Ibrox in May, bristling with experience from his eight seasons in English football. Arfield is the type of player to be looking to quickly stamp his mark on the Glasgow rivalry. The fierce contest between the 2 is going to be fiery. Bet UK's online sportsbook is currently offering betting odds of 12/5* for there to be a red card in the Old Firm.
The big question on the lips of pundits north of the border is just when Rangers can begin to compete with Celtic once more. Already it looks like the Gers will need another season of development to restore the rivalry to its former glory. But if Gerrard can galvanise his squad quickly then some light blue pride can be brought back to the Old Firm clashes.
Despite the dominance of Celtic this decade, the Old Firm is still a truly ear-bashing spectacle. The fixture remains one of Europe’s most intense rivalries and the match-up has lost none of its ferocity once both sets of supporters have thronged into the stands.
Bet UK will be covering all Old Firm Derbies this season, as well as regular updates from the Premier League and European Football. Check out our dedicated Old Firm page for the latest news from this historic fixture.
*All odds are subject to change
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