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Match Preview (Celtic v Rangers)

Probabilities for this game are Celtic 44%, a defeat 27% and a draw 29%.

To win the title the probabilities are 50% Celtic and 50% Rangers.

A Celtic win therefore will tilt those probabilities very favourably in Celtic's favour.

However according to the bookmakers the most likeliest of correct scores is 1-1, with the second most likeliest a 1-0 win to Celtic and then followed by a 2-1 win to Celtic.

In Rangers last game (bottom right) against Ross County Rangers played the following team;

  • 1 McGregor

  • 2 Tavernier, 6 Goldson, 3 Bassey and 31 Barisic

  • 37 Arfield, 18 Kamara and 17 Aribo

  • 9 Diallo, 11 Itten and 14 Kent

With Roofe, Sakala and Lundstram coming on as subs for Itten, Diallo and Arfield.

Below are Rangers average player positions in their last home game (top left) and last away game (top right) with Gerrard in charge and their last home game (bottom left) and last away game (bottom right) with van Bronckhorst in charge.

These are only average positions and don't tell the full story but I was anticipating more change in the full back positions. What you can see though is the forwards further wide, the central midfielder more deeper and the centre backs holding a higher line. The defenders holding a higher line is interesting and could throw up opportunities for Celtic.

Rangers v Ross County (Gerrard) Motherwell v Rangers (Gerrard)

Rangers v Livingston (van Bronckhorst) Ross County v Rangers (van Bronckhorst)

If you want to hear more detailed information previewing the game then as always I would recommend Enda, Alan and JucoJames on @huddlebreakdown and Christian, Aaron and Stephen on @CynicAnalysis Team Talk.

A simple but great and very insightful stat by @alan_morrison67 which I unashamedly repeat is in regards to Celtic not conceding late goals. Joe Hart (or Cameron Carter-Vickers for that matter) have never conceded a goal in the last 20 minutes of the league this season. That's a stat to show the effectiveness of our intensity and how we tire teams out with our passing and movement.

Only once in the league have we conceded in the last 20 minutes and that was the first game of the season at Tynecastle and neither Hart or Carter-Vickers were playing that day. Since then the latest we have conceded is 69 minutes versus St Johnstone on Boxing Day.

53% of Celtic's xG is created in the first half of games this season whilst 46% of Rangers' xG is created in the first half.

Celtic going 1-0 in front in the first half and then holding on to that lead is potentially something positive I'm taking in my thoughts ahead of the game.

Celtic have been leading in games an average of 43 minutes per match and losing an average of 6 minutes per match. The last time Celtic were losing in a match was 19th September versus Livingston and Celtic have only been losing in 3 matches in total this year.

Rangers are also winning in 43 minutes per match on average but they have been losing an average of 11 minutes per match and have been losing during 8 matches this year.

The below graph looks at both Celtic and Rangers Non Penalty xG for last season and this season on a 6 game rolling average. Celtic performing consistently better than Rangers as you can see by the trend lines. For this season Celtic are averaging 2.73 NP xG per game while Rangers are on 1.99.

The next graph shows Non Penalty xGA (xG conceded to the opposition). Therefore the lower the better and again Celtic are performing better than Rangers. For this season Celtic are conceding 0.60 xGA per game while Rangers are on 0.71

Therefore for xGD, and the difference between expected chances created minus expected chances conceded, it is no surprise that Celtic are showing a decent gap on Rangers with Celtic on 2.13 xGD per game and Rangers on 1.28.

We know set plays are not Celtic's strongest point and only 16.7% of Celtic's xG comes from set plays (the lowest % in the league) while 34.7% of Celtic's xGA comes from set plays and that is the 2nd highest in the league (only Aberdeen are worse). Defending set plays and more importantly reducing the amount of set plays Rangers get is critical.

In the four derby league games last season the home team had the most possession in each one although Celtic having slightly more in their home games than Rangers did in their home games. However at Ibrox this year Celtic actually had 66% of the possession and the xG was 1.56 v 0.8 in Celtic's favour. Although possession was mostly across Celtic's back line with Starfelt having 10.1%, Juranovic 9.4%, Ralston 7.7% and McGregor was next on 7.4%. Davis had the most possession of the Rangers players with 4.8%.

53% of Rangers attacks came down their right (23% left) and 51% of Celtic attacks came down their left (34% right) while 29% of the game was played in Celtic's defensive third and only 26% of the game played in Rangers defensive third.

Rangers team line up is very difficult to predict given their new signings while Celtic's is also a little bit tricky but more to do with availability due to injuries and international duty.

I'm going to guess on Celtic's line up being;

- Hart

- Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt and Taylor

- McCarthy

- O'Riley and Hatate

- Abada, Giakoumakis and Jota

If Celtic played Forrest, Abada and Jota it may force Rangers to sit that bit deeper so playing Giakoumakis may allow Rangers to continue with their high defensive line but that could suit Celtic to get in behind from the other forward players.

McGregor may make it but I'm going to guess that he won't and maybe this is the game that McCarthy shows his true worth to the Celtic fans.

My prediction;

Celtic to win 1-0 with a goal from O'Riley.

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