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SPFL lookahead: Old Firm to fight it out for the title



As ever, the Scottish Premiership is a two-horse race between Celtic and Rangers. After all, no other side has won the competition since Aberdeen, 39 years ago. Either team could take a points advantage into the second phase, as Celtic lead by a solitary point and Rangers have a game in hand. With a pivotal Old Firm derby on coming up on April 7th, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at each team’s run-in to close out the 23/24 season.

 

Before their trip to Ibrox, Celtic must first travel to bottom of the league Livingston. Ordinarily, playing a team fighting for survival away from home can throw up surprises, but with relegation looking near certain for the hosts, it seems unlikely that Livingston put up much of a fight. A final home fixture against fifth-placed St. Mirren in gameweek 33 is more daunting, but all things considered, Celtic are currently 29 points clear of them and should really be taking all three points.

 

Rangers have a similar end to the season, starting with a match at home against sixth-placed Hibs, who are unbeaten in their last six in the league. Having just lost to Rangers in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, they have a point to prove going into the clash. Rangers’ last game of the first phase is away to Ross County, who sit second from bottom, but this game won’t be as simple as Celtic’s tie with Livingston. Ross County are one point behind St. Johnstone, so they know that every remaining result will be crucial to their future in the league. If they play to the best of their abilities, Rangers will be walking away from these fixtures with two wins out of two. They were supposed to be playing Dundee F.C at the weekend, but bad weather has forced a postponement. The rearranged date for the fixture is yet to be confirmed, which has caused an unwanted shuffle of Rangers’ schedule.

 

As important as these games are, no one will argue that any game is more important than the Old Firm derby in the gameweek 32. Rangers and Celtic have already met twice this season, with the Bhoys winning on both occasions. Neither side has won three Old Firms in a row since Celtic in 2017, so recent derby results shouldn’t dishearten Rangers fans too much. They also hold the crucial home advantage, which has proven pivotal in recent derbies. Three of the last four Old Firms were won by the home side, a trend which Rangers will be looking to continue. In no uncertain terms, this game could easily go either way.

 

The Old Firm will be shown on Sky Sports on Sunday 7 April at 12:00, followed by Manchester United v Liverpool at 3:30, making it a true Super Sunday. On the eve of revision week, make some time for a day of live football.



Image: Wikimedia Commons


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