The last time the sides met here, it was dubbed the "Shame Game"

The gloss and shine was well and truely taken off Christmas for football fans in Scotland this year. The biggest event of December, the night we have all been waiting for..the 28th of December..The Old Firm.

From the 4-2 trashing that Rangers handed out to Celtic last time, to the comments of Nikica Jelavic saying the title was over, this match has been built up for months now and Celtic go in strong favourites.
Rangers have been poor recently and a loss to st.mirren and finishing the match on 9 men, doesn’t prepare them well for the clash at Celtic Park. McCulloch was sent off for Rangers after elbowing one of the saints players and McCoist has since appealed the deicison. Weather he is doing it to exploit the loop-hole in the rules so McCulloch can face Celtic or if he genuienly feels he has a case, it means that Rangers have him available.
When the sides met in the early stages of the season, Celtic had been on a poor run of form & Naismith proved the difference by tearing Celtic opening attack after attack. This match will be different as Naismith is injured and Rangers have struggled to get Aluko, Davis, or Wylde to open up teams in the same way that Naismith did.

In that match, Jelavic pulled Rangers back into the match and Lafferty gave Rangers the lead for the second time in the match. Lafferty has since been the only Rangers player who has the ability to ‘bail out’ his team mates in poor performances since Naismith’s injury. For example the home game against Inverness which Rangers should have lost.Jelavic has netted 12 times this season but his performances do not reflect his goals tally. 5 of those 12 league goals have been penalties which his team mates have earned. I’ve never been impressed by players who score goals through penalties and recieve praise for it , ie Frank Lampard.

A player who has been scoring freely this season ( without the need of penalties) is a man who relishes the old firms and has a record to match it – Gary Hooper. 3 in 3 at Ibrox for Hooper and 3 in 3 at Celtic Park against Rangers. A brilliant record for the Englishman and will be key in Celtic’s approach this season with his impressive performances of late including a goal away to Serie A high flyers, Udinese.
Rangers will most likely use their best tactic away to Celtic, which has worked time after time, and that is to sit back at frustrate the home side. If they are to try this, there is one man who will be Key, or Ki, to Celtic’s forward play and to break down the solid defensive structure of the Rangers back line. As you will know from my previous, terrible, terrible joke, Ki Sung-Yueng will be instrumental for Lennon’s side. Recently crowned the Korean player of the year to add to his Asia best XI 08 & 09, Asian Young Player 09, 44 caps for Korea at the ripe old age of 22!

Celtic go in favourites with momentum and the recent-incredible to see-almost above average form of Samaras who has been a thorn against Rangers in the past.
Rangers are missing a few names most notably Goain and will feel it if the recent form of both clubs continues on the night.

My prediction : Celtic 3-1 Rangers
The match will certaintly be a cracker and a wonderful way to end the year!
By Simon Bienkowski
you can follow him on twitter @simonbien