Rangers vs Celtic: Key Old Firm head to head battles as Scottish Premiership title rivals collide


Just three points separate Celtic and Rangers in the Scottish Premiership, so where could Sunday’s Old Firm clash be won or lost?

The match at Ibrox could be key in deciding who will finish top come May as the race for the title race looks set to go to the wire.

Rangers won the first meeting of the season last August before Celtic blew away their rivals in the February encounter, so ahead of Sunday’s match, WhoScored.com pick out five key head-to-heads that could well determine who leaves Ibrox with all the spoils…


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Allan McGregor vs Joe Hart

Image: Allan McGregor and Joe Hart could be kept busy at Ibrox

Joe Hart has kept more clean sheets (16) than any other goalkeeper in the Scottish Premiership this season, one of which came in February’s Old Firm at Celtic Park. However, of those 16, only four have come on the road. In addition, Hart made three saves in Celtic’s last visit to Ibrox, yet failed to keep out Filip Helander’s second-half header to consign Ange Postecoglou’s side to a 1-0 loss.

Image: Hart has kept the most clean sheets in the Scottish Premiership this season

The summer arrival will aim to improve his record on the road, where he has earned a WhoScored.com rating of just 6.55, that’s the worst of all Celtic regulars in the Scottish Premiership this season. To his credit, two of the four away clean sheets he has returned this season have come in his last four away outings, but he’ll need to be at his best to keep a Rangers attack that has scored 62 league goals this season at bay.

Allan McGregor missed the first Old Firm of the season back in August, but was back between the sticks for the 3-0 loss at Celtic. The experienced keeper has kept 11 clean sheets in 24 outings, an impressive return for the 40-year-old, however he has been prone to the odd mistake.

Image: Allan McGregor missed the first Old Firm clash of the season at Ibrox

Indeed, McGregor has made more errors leading to an opposition goal (3) than any other player in the Scottish Premiership this season, including two in a 3-3 draw at Ross County where he earned a rating of 3.88, that the lowest in a league match in 2021/22. That said, having kept eight clean sheets in his last nine home outings, Celtic will certainly have their work cut out to get the better of him.

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James Tavernier vs Josip Juranovic

Just as he was last season, James Tavernier is the best-rated player in the Scottish Premiership so far this term having garnered a WhoScored.com rating of 7.71 across his 29 league outings. The Rangers skipper has made more key passes (96) and assists (11) than any other player in Scotland’s top tier this term, all while winning the man of the match awards.

Image: Rangers captain James Tavernier's made the most assists in the league this season

That said, as impressive as Tavernier has been this season, his worst-rated performance of the season did come in that Old Firm defeat, where he earned a rating of just 6.02. Having missed the first meeting between the pair at Ibrox back in August, the 30-year-old will be keen to make up for lost time on Sunday.

Anthony Ralston was previously first-choice right-back for Celtic, but has recently lost his place in the side to Josip Juranovic. The Croat has flitted between right and left-back following his summer arrival, with 10 of his 21 league starts coming in the former position and nine in the latter.

Image: Josip Juranovic has impressed in his first season at Celtic

Juranovic hasn’t excelled in the same way as Tavernier, yet the 26-year-old has proven a solid addition to the squad with his versatility at the back key. An average of 1.5 tackles per game is the fourth-best of all Celtic players this season and he’ll need to be at his best off the ball if he is to keep the Rangers frontline at bay.

Connor Goldson vs Cameron Carter-Vickers

Rangers rank second for both possession (64%) and pass success rate (84.5%) in the Scottish Premiership this season with Connor Goldson key to their dominance. Goldson is averaging more passes per game (71.8) than any other Gers player, that ranking fourth overall in the division in a packed Celtic field.

Image: Connor Goldson averages more passes per game than any Rangers team-mate

That said, like Tavernier, Goldson’s worst-rated performance of the season came in the 3-0 loss at Celtic, so the centre-back will be looking to make amends in the penultimate game week before the league split. Goldson’s performance levels may have dipped from last season, yet he remains a key player for the Gers as they seek to successfully defend their crown.

As far as debut seasons go, you can’t ask for much better than Cameron Carter-Vickers. With a WhoScored.com rating of 7.32, the 24-year-old is the best-rated centre-back in the Scottish Premiership this season. The American has a number of endearing traits that has helped quickly win over the Celtic faithful, but the best of which is his distribution, which allows Celtic to dominate.

Image: Cameron Carter-Vickers is the best rated WhoScored centre-back in the league this season

Carter-Vickers ranks second for passes per game (91.2) and sixth for pass success rate (89.3%) in the division and this quality on the ball means Celtic are able to control league games this season and denies opponents the chance to frequently attack Joe Hart between the sticks. Celtic have conceded fewer goals (18) and are conceding fewer shots per game (6.4) than any other Scottish Premiership side this season, with Carter-Vickers vital to both figures being so low.

Ryan Kent vs Jota

Ryan Kent has struggled to match his 2020/21 numbers having scored just twice and registered five assists this season. As such, his WhoScored.com rating has dropped from 7.40 to 7.25, but he remains a player hellbent on improving on his numbers in the final third before the campaign draws to a close.

Image: Ryan Kent could be key for Rangers against Celtic

Kent ranks 10th for shots (58) and 14th for key passes (39) in Scotland’s top tier this term and when he does get going with the ball at his feet, he is difficult to drop, as noted by his 48 successful dribbles in the Scottish Premiership this season; only former Hibs forward Martin Boyle (53) has completed more.

Like so many new arrivals, Jota has shone for Celtic in his debut season in Scotland. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.53 is the third best in the Scottish Premiership this season and the Portuguese youngster has thrived on the road. That said, Sunday’s trip to Ibrox will be his first in his career, so one would expect a baptism of fire for the 22-year-old.

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Highlights of February’s Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers.

A total of 14 goals and assists combined is the sixth best in the division while Jota also ranks eighth for key passes (45) and fifth for successful dribbles (38) so not only is he able to beat an opponent with ease, there is a fine end product to his game. In the battle for supremacy in Glasgow, the winner of this wing-wizard head-to-head may just have a key say in the title race.

Alfredo Morelos vs Giorgos Giakoumakis

Alfredo Morelos may have 11 league goals to his name this season as he remains in the race to win the Scottish Premiership Golden Boot, yet his Old Firm record is poor. Morelos has faced Celtic more times (18) than any other team in his career and has netted only two goals in that run, and just once at Ibrox.

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Alfredo Morelos scored twice on his return to the Rangers team in a 5-0 win over Hearts

The 25-year-old has managed more shots (112) than any other player in the Scottish Premiership this season, so he remains as confident as always in his quest for goal. Even if the Colombian isn’t scoring, though, fans can be sure Morelos will make an impact in the final third. Seven assists is the third best in Scotland, those coming from 52 key passes, the fifth most, and Rangers supporters are hopeful he can boost his poor goal return against Celtic in the crunch Old Firm on the horizon.

Injury has impacted Giorgos Giakoumakis’ time at Celtic following his arrival from PEC Zwolle, yet the Greek hitman has still netted eight goals in just 745 minutes of league action. Giakoumakis has scored a hat-trick in two of his last three Scottish Premiership appearances, doing so against Dundee and Ross County.

Image: Giorgos Giakoumakis has hit form for Celtic in recent weeks

The last Celtic player to score a hat-trick against Rangers was Moussa Dembele back in 2016, a feat the Greek striker will seek to repeat at Ibrox. But, with just one of eight goals scored coming on the road this season, the 27-year-old needs to be at his best to add to his impressive eight goals given his lack of game time following his move to Glasgow.

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