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Heart versus Head

Celtic v Rangers Preview

All week my Head has been saying that too many of us Celtic fans are far too over confident and I can't understand why. Rangers' performance has dropped in recent times while Celtic's has improved (evidenced by the xG figures). But have we forgot about the gap this season both in points and in performances against Rangers (couldn't win in must win games).

However listening to Podcasts while sitting out the back in the sun and grabbing on to minor logical reasons why we can win I'm starting to let my Heart rule my Head.

Predicted line up for Rangers;

- McGregor

- Patterson, Goldson, Helander and Barisic

- Arfield, Davis and Kamara

- Aribo, Morelos and Kent

Many others predict Roofe instead of Arfield but I believe Arfield will come in to help try and win the midfield battle.

Patterson is a decent player at right back but Rangers most productive player (Tavernier) being out is definitely a bonus for us.

Rangers have only needed a draw in the last 2 games against us and managed to achieve their objective. Today they need to be up for it more than they have for a long while and I believe we will see a different Rangers.

You can see in the above chart that our NP xG has been behind Rangers' most of the season but recently we've overtaken them and started to create a gap. However our NP xG conceded is still trending worse than them.

In regards to NP xG differential we have again just recently went ahead of Rangers.

However it has to be taken in context in that they have already won the league and we are playing with the pressure off.

In the 3 previous games versus Rangers this season;

- Celtic have averaged 54% possession

- Celtic have averaged 11.3 shots (Rangers 9.33)

- Celtic have averaged 11 shots on target (Rangers 8)

- Celtic have averaged 18 shots in the box (Rangers 22)

The above highlights the season overall in that we are good with possession and shots but Rangers are more clinical and have more shots in the box (and better xG per shot).

Rangers lead the SPFL on NP xG per shot at 0.115 per shot where as we are on 0.100 per shot (7th in SPFL).

Last week's performance was good not because we beat a declining Livingston team but because our finishing was more clinical. We had 65% of shots on target (v 38% of the season) and we had 88% of shots in the box (v 56% for the season) and our NP xG per shot of 0.142 was a big improvement and good sign going forward.

My predicted Celtic line up is;

- Bain

- Kenny, Welsh, Ajer and Laxalt

- Brown

- Christie, Turnbull, McGregor

- Edouard and Elyounoussi

A bit of a surprise at left back as most think Taylor will get the nod but I've just got a feeling Laxalt will be playing. I don't think Forrest will make it and I don't know why we leave the announcement of these things to the the last minute (like we did with Edouard in October) as it just gives them a lift an hour before kick off.

It will be a hybrid 442diamond and 4231 with Christie starting as right No.8 but pushing up more than McGregor while Elyounoussi starting up front will drift wide left at times.

I've tried to think through my prediction all week and I just can't see any team losing this game. Too much at stake and not that much between them at the moment will see the game go to extra time and penalties.

Bottle will come into then and Rangers will face the pressure for the first time this season.

I was originally going to go for Celtic on penalties but listening to the Cynic Preview there I was inspired by one of the callers who predicted a Ryan Christie winner in Extra Time and I can now just see that.

90 minutes will see the score 2-2. Celtic will score first (as I can't see us coming back if Rangers score first) through Callum McGregor.

To win this game though we really need to reduce the amount of set pieces Rangers get and we should let Rangers have the ball and come at us to see how they handle that change in game dynamics.

Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️

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