MX23RW : Wednesday, June 23 23:39:08| >> :600:205054:205054:
Dec 29, 2018 at 12.30pm UK at Ibrox Stadium (Glasgow)
Attendance: 49,863
Jack (30')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Rangers vs. Celtic - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the second Old Firm derby of the season between Rangers and Celtic.

Rangers and Celtic face off for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon in a top-of-the-table Scottish Premiership clash at Ibrox.

The Gers slipped up in their most recent outing, drawing 1-1 at home to Hibernian, and therefore head into this final match before the winter break sitting three points behind their opponents after playing a game more.


Rangers manager Steven Gerrard pictured on November 29, 2018© Reuters

Having slammed his players for their below-par first-half showing in the 2-1 win against St Johnstone just before Christmas, Steven Gerrard again let rip following Wednesday's draw with Hibs.

Second-half goals from Alfredo Morelos earned Rangers all three points at McDiarmid Park, the second goal coming in the 88th minute, but the reverse was true last time out as Darren McGregor nicked a late goal for the visitors.

Gerrard admits to being concerned about his side's over-reliance on Morelos, who was again on target on Boxing Day to make it 16 goals in 20 league and cup outings this season.

The Liverpool legend has called on the other players in his squad "to stand up and be counted", with Saturday's meeting against arch-rivals Celtic taking on added significance due to the sides' placing in the table.

Rangers risk falling six points adrift of the leaders with defeat this weekend, having also played a game more, though victory for the Gers and it is level pegging at the top heading into the month-long hiatus.

Gerrard's men may be five games without defeat in the Scottish Premiership, though their form has been far too inconsistent in recent weeks, failing to win back-to-back matches since December.

Nine points from a possible 18 have been collected since then, leaving the Gers as the best of the rest in pursuit of perennial title winners Celtic. Finishing above every other team is the target for Gerrard, but a failure to take at least a point from Celtic in his side's last outing of 2018 will surely end any lingering title hopes.

Recent form in Scottish Premiership: LDWDWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLWDWD


Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers gives orders on December 13, 2018© Reuters

Following their late-autumn blip, when dropping two points against both Livingston and Motherwell and all three against Hibernian, Celtic have won three from three to take back control at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

The Hoops followed up three-goal victories over Motherwell and Dundee at Celtic Park with a thrilling 4-3 win against Aberdeen on Boxing Day, ensuring that they cannot be overtaken at the top, barring a 4-0 goal loss on Saturday.

Scott Sinclair twice put the champions in front at Pittodrie, before scoring his side's fourth of the afternoon - which would prove to be the decisive goal - for his second hat-trick in the famous green and white stripes.

Celtic also made it through to the last 32 of the Europa League earlier this month, despite suffering a 2-1 home loss to Red Bull Salzburg in their final group outing, so momentum is now back on their side.

The Hoops have won fewer than half of their 20 away matches in all competitions this season, though, dropping seven points from recent trips to Livingston, Motherwell and Hibernian, and they now face four of the five sides immediately below them in successive matches.

Brendan Rodgers's charges may be well positioned at the midway point in proceedings, then, but they still have plenty of work to do before celebrating another title success, while questions remain over how much backing Rodgers will receive in the January transfer window.

For Rodgers, the only target now is to put another win on the board ahead of the winter break and hope that another striker is brought in over the next few weeks to lift some weight off the shoulders of Odsonne Edouard.

Recent form in Scottish Premiership: DWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWWW

Team News

Alfredo Morelos in a Rangers training session on November 28, 2018© Reuters

Connor Goldson is the latest injury scare for Rangers after limping off in the 1-1 draw against Hibs, joining Scott Arfield, Ryan Kent and Gareth McAuley as fitness doubts for Saturday's match.

Gerrard will also be without Graham Dorrans once again, with the midfielder playing no part for the Gers since September, while Andy Halliday will have to fill in for the absent Borna Barisic.

There could be better news, however, as Arfield is expected to return to the starting lineup in place of Lassana Coulibaly, who has been used heavily during the festive period.

In terms of the visitors, Rodgers must decide whether to use Edouard from the start or stick with the same forward line that started against Aberdeen.

Edouard made a huge impact when brought off the bench at Pittodrie, but he is still not fully fit and a late decision will likely be made.

Emilio Izaguirre and Jonny Hayes helped out at left-back against Aberdeen, though Rodgers will give Kieran Tierney every chance of making his return at Ibrox following a two-week spell on the sidelines.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Katic, Goldson, Halliday; Arfield, McCrorie, Jack; Candeias, Morelos, Middleton

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Benkovic, Izaguirre; Brown, McGregor, Christie; Forrest, Edouard, Sinclair

Head To Head

Celtic have won 10 and drawn two of their last 12 meetings with Rangers in all competitions since Rodgers took charge of the Bhoys in 2016.

Thirty-one goals have been scored by Celtic and just six conceded during that spell, and they have won all four previous encounters at Ibrox under the Ulsterman.

The reverse fixture earlier this season finished 1-0 to Rodgers's side, with Oliver Ntcham scoring the only goal of the game just after the hour mark at Celtic Park.

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We say: Rangers 1-1 Celtic

Celtic know that a fourth league win on the bounce will lift them clear of the chasing pack ahead of the winter break, but Rangers have proved to be a tough side to beat this term, losing just three times under Gerrard - the same number of losses as their opponents. A tight game can be expected in Glasgow in a local derby that so often provides plenty of drama.

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