Rangers v Celtic: Fireworks expected for Hogmanay Old Firm battle

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SCOTTISH football bible Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) shares his favourite fancy from Hogmanay’s Old Firm clash.

Rangers v Celtic | New Year’s Eve 12:15 | Sky Sports

Edinburgh might well be Scotland’s Hogmanay HQ, but there will certainly be more than a few fireworks in Glasgow on Saturday as Rangers play host to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.

The Hoops have had the better of their bitter rivals so far this season, with Brendan Rodgers’ side coming out on top in both of the previous two meetings between the teams this term.

Indeed, Celtic have won four of the last five clashes between the clubs, with Rangers’ solitary victory during that run of results coming when they got the better of the Hoops at Hampden in a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out in a Scottish Cup semi-final last season.

That victory, as it turned out, signalled the end of Ronny Deila’s reign in Glasgow’s east end and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager in the summer has improved Celtic beyond all recognition.

Rodgers’ tenure started disastrously – with a hugely embarrassing 1-0 defeat against Gibraltarian minnows Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League qualifiers – but Celtic recovered to reach the group stages of the competition after a three-year absence.

The Hoops failed to fire in an extremely difficult group against Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively, but on the domestic scene, things have been both serene and spectacularly successful.

Celtic have dropped just two points in the opening half of the Premiership season and it is surely a case of “when” rather than “if” Rodgers’ side secure a sixth successive Scottish title, for the defending champions have a yawning 16-point advantage at the top of the table.

Rangers remain as the Celtic’s closest challengers and Mark Warburton’s men can certainly attribute their league placing to their fine record on home soil, for the ‘Gers have yet to be beaten in Govan so far this season; indeed, Rangers have lost just two goals in their 11 home wins in all competitions this term.

Celtic’s record at Ibrox is nothing to write home about; indeed, the Hoops have won on just one of their last eight trips to Rangers’ home, losing seven goals on their previous two visits.

This Celtic side, though, is made of sterner stuff and the generous 4/5 offered up by William Hill for the Hoops to round off 2016 by securing bragging rights against Rangers in Saturday’s showdown offers outstanding value.

Celtic to beat Rangers on Hogmanay at 4/5 is my best bet from Scotland this weekend.

Best Bets

Rangers v Celtic – Celtic to win (4/5 William Hill)

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Willie is a freelance sports writer, specialising in Scottish football. He has covered Scottish football for more than a decade, working for a variety of betting organisations and media outlets. Away from betting, Edinburgh-born Willie enjoys nothing more than watching his beloved Hearts in action.

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