Celtic vs Rangers | Saturday 17th October 2020, 12:30 | Sky Sports
The long-awaited first Old Firm clash of 2020 is now upon us. It will be a must-watch as usual, but it will be especially intriguing, without any fans being present at Celtic Park for this Saturday lunch-time head-to-head.
Rangers currently sit top of the league with 26 points, Celtic are in second, one point behind, but with a game in-hand. Both teams dropped points have came away – the Gers drawing away at Livingston and Hibs, the Hoops playing out a stalemate at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock.
The scorelines in the head-to-heads over the last two seasons have been:
1-2, 0-1, 0-2, 2-0, 2-1, 1-0 and 1-0.
A bit surprisingly there hasn't been a draw amongst them, but as you can see, not goal-laden either.
Neil Lennon it appears, seems to have selection issues and will have players missing. Ryan Christie is still having to self-isolate, Nir Bitton likewise. Odsonne Eduard has had COVID and will be a last-minute decision whether he'll be involved at all. Hatem Abd Elhamed has also been ill and striker Albian Ajetti is an injury doubt.
Steven Gerrard has a few injuries too. Niko Katic is out long term, Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe have been injured, but have just started back training, Borna Barisic has had a knock, though should make it.
Referees and cards
John Beaton is in charge for this one. In his last Old Firm derby in December ’18 he produced four yellow cards. There is no real value on the cards markets, either with individual players or with team or match totals – again bookies taking are no chances.
Expected Goals (xG)
If you take the sides Expected Goals (xG) scored so far this season against their xG conceded, you get a difference of +1.39 Celtic versus +2.09 Rangers. These stats are against the rest of the teams.
As seen by these numbers, it's fair to say Celtic have not been at their best thus far.
Interestingly one of the bookmakers earlier in the week priced up Over 10 Corners at 10/11. Sadly, this price is long gone, it's easy to see why when you look at the corner totals for this fixture over the two previous seasons: 18-12-13-9-15-14-18.
Hence, I'm still quite prepared to take SkyBet's 5/4 for the match to reach at least 12 corners. As you can see it's landed 87% of the time in recent times.
In the last two Old firm matches centre-backs have scored in these games – Katic and Christopher Julian. So I wouldn't put anyone off having a wager on the likes of Shane Duffy or Connor Goldson to pop up, especially with the expectancy of plenty of corners.
Undoubtedly, Rangers have been more than competitive and played very well against Celtic in their league or cup matches of late. Celtic are more understrength than their opponents going into this, added to that the hosts don't have any home fan advantage in the current circumstances, so it's easy to see why bookmakers have nothing between the odds for either to win.
So given that only twice in the recent seven matches(29%) we have seen the goals go Over 2.5, unders is the call at 10/11 (Bet365). Especially as the stakes are even higher this season with Rangers wanting to halt Celtics progress to 10 titles in a row.
Neither team will want to lose in this.