Scottish Premiership

Rangers v Celtic: Back the hosts following Holland horror show

Rangers Michael Beale
Michael Beale is under pressure following Wednesday's Champions League mauling

It's the first Old Firm Derby of the season, and Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse expects home advantage to shine through...

  • Rangers thrashed in Holland

  • Celtic fail to beat bottom club

  • Home advantage to tell in Old Firm clash

Rangers v Celtic
Sunday, 12:00
Live on BT Sport

Early-season thriller

The first Old Firm Derby of the season and 436th in history kicks off at midday on Sunday, with both halves of the Glasgow divide aiming to take control of the title race. One point separates the pair as Michael Beale's Bears face Brendan Rodgers' Bhoys in a surefire thriller.

The home team was humiliated in the Netherlands by PSV, losing a Champions League playoff 5-1 on the night and 7-3 on aggregate. It was a humbling experience for last season's Scottish Premiership runners-up, meaning they dropped into the Europa League groups.

Celtic are a Champions League team and will want to pull rank over their hosts in Govan despite travelling without fans. It'll be all Rangers in the stands as they push for back-to-back Old Firm wins.

Bears mauled by flying Dutch

It hasn't been the start to the season Beale, his players, or the Rangers fans had hoped for, with the Gers losing their first and last games of the month. The challengers brought the curtain up at Rugby Park, where they lost 1-0 to Kilmarnock courtesy of Brad Lyons' second-half strike. Things got much worse in the Netherlands on Wednesday when Rangers were tossed out of the Champions League playoffs by PSV following that 5-1 mauling.

Fans are already growing anxious, and if Rangers' new recruits hadn't realised already, Sunday will show time isn't a luxury afforded to them in Scotland. Supporters want to see their side be competitive in every game, and the midweek humiliation will take some getting over. The best way to banish the ghosts of Wednesday is to bounce back with an Old Firm win at Ibrox.

Gers enter with two wins and one loss in the league, following that shock at Rugby Park with solid wins over Livingston and Ross County. They played eight games last month in the Premiership, Champions League, and Scottish League Cup, meaning the players should be sharp, up to speed, and firing ahead of the visit of Celtic.

Bhoys without a win in two

It's a very different story across the city, with Celtic rewarded for winning the Premiership title last term with a place in the Champions League group stages. The Bhoys were tossed into a pool with Atletico Madrid, Feyenoord, and Lazio. Progression to the knockout stages looks unlikely in such a competitive lot, but you've got to be in it to win it. Another season mixing it with Europe's elite will do wonders for the club's finances.

Celtic entered the weekend on top of the Premiership with two wins and a draw, claiming seven of the first nine points available. Rodgers celebrated his return to Parkhead with an entertaining 4-2 win over Ross County before beating rivals Aberdeen 3-1 at Pittodrie, coming through a tricky trip to the Granite City. But they were then held to a goalless draw by lowly St Johnstone last weekend, a result that caused unrest in the stands.

Two points dropped at this early stage wasn't enough to knock Celtic from pole position, but it is a concern after they were dropped from the League Cup by Kilmarnock, who progressed with a 1-0 win. Marley Watkins scored the winner on the hour mark to eliminate the champions. Ange Postecoglou handed Rodgers a treble before he left for Spurs, and the Hoops were out of the running in August. No treble this season, but a convincing win at Ibrox would help Rodgers' team get back on track and settle a disgruntled support.

Home win favourite

It's difficult to recall an Old Firm derby played so early in the season where both managers were under so much pressure. Beale and Rodgers are still finding their feet in the hot seat with revamped squads. Still, a Champions League mauling and disastrous attempt at defending the treble means any grace period has well and truly evaporated.

Rangers are 2.466/4 to grab a home win and pass Celtic in the league, drawing first blood in the title race. With no Celtic fans in attendance, that's how we're playing this one. The Bhoys look out of sorts, and we expect their new players to be caught in the headlights at Ibrox. The away win trades at 2.829/5, or you can back the draw at 3.953/1.

The locals played four games at Ibrox last month, each producing over 2.5 goals, and a repeat performance is 1.625/8. Both teams scored in five of the Gers' eight outings and two of Celtic's four. Both to score again is worth a spot in your weekend multiples at 1.584/7.

Back Rangers win @ 2.466/4

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