Rangers vs Celtic | Saturday 2nd January 2020, 12:30 | Sky Sports
It's most unusual on the 2nd of January to be looking at this game as being a possible league decider – but if Rangers were to win if would be hard to argue with the Teddy Bears being champions-elect.
The Gers currently enjoy a 16-point lead, although the Hoops do have three games in-hand. The Ibrox men are W19-D2-L0 in the league, the two draws coming away to Livingston and Hibs. In Govan, the hosts have been flawless, winning all 10 matches, scoring 32 and only conceding one goal to Motherwell. Steven Gerrard will be missing Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield with injury for this vital clash.
Celtic, on the other hand, have had a challenging first half of the season; from the middle of October when Rangers won so comfortably at Celtic Park, Neil Lennon's men only won 2/12 in all competitions from that match until early December.
The ship has since been steadied somewhat, with six recent victories, including a win on penalty kicks in the delayed 2020 Scottish Cup final against Hearts. Lenny could be missing centre back Christopher Julian at Ibrox, who picked up an injury in midweek.
If you blanked the two team names out, and just analysed this fixture based on all known form and the numbers, you'd be very surprised to see the favourites at odds-against. With doubts over the quality of the Celtic's goalkeepers in their squad, and their vulnerability in defence – the 11/10 on a Rangers win with Skybet, looks big to me. Especially given the ease of the win in the reverse fixture.
Cards and penalties
Bobby Madden takes charge for this one. The experienced arbiter is one of the most lenient whistlers in Scotland. In the 8 Premiership matches he has overseen this season he has only dished out 18 yellow cards, he has however shown two reds.
Having no crowd in, is a massive factor for the likes of this clash. I think it undoubtedly affects potential card totals here and I'm convinced Madden will try and go for as long as possible without reaching into his pocket.
The cards angle I like is – Under 2 First-Half Cards, which is 3/4 with William Hill. John Beaton was the ref for the first Old Firm clash in November, his first card wasn't until the 60th minute. So with Madden's reluctance with the yellow cards, it could be a quiet start for cautions at Ibrox.
The official though has remarkably awarded a total of five penalties in his last 5 league matches, so with the Gers penalty taker James Tavernier having already bagged 11 goals in 21 league game, a speculative punt on the captain to score a brace is possibly worth a small interest at 25/1 with Paddy Power.
Rangers vs Celtic – Rangers to win (11/10 SkyBet)
Rangers vs Celtic – Under 2 First-Half Cards (3/4 William Hill)
Rangers vs Celtic – James Tavernier to score 2+ goals (25/1 Paddy Power)