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Form goes out the window in the Old Firm at the best of times, but it is almost totally irrelevant considering the Scottish Premiership hasn’t mattered in about three months. The title race has effectively been over since Celtic’s defeat to Rangers at Ibrox in January and the run of poor results that followed has made the run-in even more of a procession for Steven Gerrard’s men.
The Bhoys have been playing for pride since that defeat to Rangers, while The Gers have been almost entirely focused on completing an invincible season ever since their Europa League exit at the hands of Slavia Prague.
Defeat in the cup at the hands of their arch-rivals would spell an underwhelming end to what has been an excellent season for Rangers, and they will be keen to avoid that eventuality by continuing their excellent recent record in the Old Firm.
Sunday 15:00 – Rangers v Celtic
Premier Sports 1
Steven Gerrard’s side are unbeaten in their last four games against Celtic, but their cup record under him leaves a lot to be desired. They have made only one cup final since the Liverpool legend’s appointment despite coming up against Celtic just once in their last five campaigns in the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.
They have been impeccable domestically all year, but their League Cup defeat to Ross County showed a vulnerability and Celtic, who have won four Scottish Cups on the bounce, are poised to capitalise.
Mohamed Elyounoussi has been in a rich vein of goalscoring form since the return of club football following the international break, and he will hope to score in his second Old Firm in succession when Celtic travel to Ibrox on Sunday. Elyounoussi gave his side the lead in last month’s dead rubber between the two sides as Celtic sought to end Rangers’ unbeaten run, but a goal this weekend would be altogether more meaningful.
It would be disastrous if Celtic were to finish the season without winning any trophies having won four domestic trebles in succession and Elyounoussi will be key to any hopes they have of lifting the Scottish Cup.
The Norwegian forward is on course to record his best-ever goalscoring season, scoring 17 times in 41 appearances for Celtic. Many of his strikes have come as crucial goals in Celtic’s cup campaigns this term and he could score the most crucial goal of all this Sunday.
Rangers’ form at Ibrox this season has been nothing short of outstanding. Gerrard’s side have won 17 out of 17 home games in the league, conceding just three goals. Their defensive record is astonishing and it’s hard to make the case for Celtic winning on Sunday if Rangers manage to score.
To put it into perspective, a home goal would mean that Celtic have to score 66% of the goals that Rangers have conceded at home all season.
A Celtic victory will almost certainly have to come off the back of an imperious defensive performance and John Kennedy will hope to follow the blueprint laid down by Slavia Prague when they dumped Rangers out of the Europe League at Ibrox last month.
This game is unlikely to see a great influx of goals, even if Rangers manage to live up to their favourites tag. Just one of the last seven Old Firms has witnessed more than 2.5 goals and Sunday’s game is unlikely to be any different considering Rangers’ miserly defensive record.
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