A Hogmanay Old Firm should be tasty so our card man Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) was only happy to get involved.
Rangers v Celtic | Saturday 12:15 | Sky Sports
New Year's Eve in Glasgow promises to be quite some affair with the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic, perhaps literally, kicking things off! Brendan Rodgers takes his table toppers to Ibrox with a seemingly unassailable 16 point advantage over Mark Warburton's Gers.
Celtic recorded a convincing 5-1 victory at Celtic Park back in September and followed that up with a 1-0 League Cup win against Rangers in October.
Interestingly, the Scottish FA have chosen to not give this game to the usual suspects Craig Thompson and Willie Collum. Instead, Steven McLean makes his Old Firm debut. McLean is 35 years old and averages 5.4 cards per game in his league matches so far this season.
Quite how he will react in the heat of his first derby is anyone's guess. Will he lose control? Quite possibly. Will he try and keep a lid on things in the early stages? Certainly.
In his ten league games so far this term, he has shown first half cards of 0-4-2-0-1-0-1-0-2-0. In the second half of games he has given total cards of 4-1-7-1-3-4-4-3-9-5. That is an average of 4.1 per game. The earlier meeting at Celtic Park had six second half cards so following a similar strategy here makes sense.
On December 3rd, McLean dished out nine cards when Rangers hosted Aberdeen. That haul included two red cards (Client Hill and Ryan Jack).
Overall, he has given three red cards in 10 matches this season so isn't shy in reaching for his top pocket. You may recall that Phillipe Senderos was sent off by Willie Collum as Rangers suffered the 5-1 drubbing in the first match and there is always the possibility of a sending off in this fixture as tempers flare.
Lack of imagination
I have to say that I have been disappointed by the lack of imagination from bookmakers in offering cards markets on this fixture. At the time of writing, 15 hours before kick off, many firms have ducked cards completely.
Anyway, back to the tips. Given the tendancy of this referee to dish cards out after the half time break I have to recommend backing over three second half cards with William Hill at 7/10.
As a novice in this fixture, I also fancy that he might lose control provided Celtic don't run away with it. A red card is very short (9/5 with 888Sport is the best I can find). Rather than back that, you would expect a red card to possibly be more likely in the second half of the match rather than the first. Therefore, a second half sending off with Skybet at 9/4 make more appeal to me.
Joe Garner averages the best minutes per card ratio (a card every 231 minutes) of any player on show and he is worth backing at 11/4 with 888sport to collect a card.
This match is always engrossing and something similar is expected again this time around. Enjoy the game and Happy New Year to you all!
Rangers v Celtic – Over 3 Second Half Cards (7/10 William Hill)
Rangers v Celtic – Second Half Sending Off (9/4 Skybet)
Rangers v Celtic – Joe Garner to get a card (11/4 888 Sport)