Celtic clinched its 49th Scottish Premiership title with a 5-0 shellacking of rivals Rangers last season, and can come a lot closer to adding No. 50 with a home Old Firm Derby triumph on Sunday.
It’s the first time that Celtic will be seeking to avoid back-to-back losses to Rangers in ages after Steven Gerrard‘s hosts evened the season’s series with a 1-0 defeat of Celtic at the Ibrox Stadium on Dec. 29.
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Celtic have a 10-point lead on Rangers through 30 matches of league play, and are hoping to sew up an eighth-straight title as quickly as possible.
To take another step while getting revenge against Gerrard and Rangers would be special. This is especially true after Gerrard shot down the idea of Celtic Park being an impactful venue. From Sky Sports:
“I’ve never seen fans win a football match, it will be loud but it won’t be a lion’s den. A lion’s den is when four lions jump over a cage and you fear for your life. You have to thrive in this atmosphere. If any of my players don’t fancy it they are at the wrong club.”
On the other sideline is Neil Lennon, overseeing his first Old Firm match since 2012. Celtic has three wins and a draw since Lennon took the reins from Brendan Rodgers, who took the manager’s chair at Leicester City.
Lennon spent 2000-07 as a player with Celtic, winning five titles, and managed the club to two league crowns during 2010-14. He went 6W-2D-4L against Rangers as Celtic boss, and would love to turn his interim manager title into the full-time gig.
Oddly, he claims the job won’t hang on this match. From the Scottish Daily Record:
“It’ll be whole package over the three months I’ll have been in charge. There is a lot of speculation surrounding that, but that’s all it is. Speculation and conjecture and I’ve obviously taken no notice of it.”
Harvey Elliott came to Liverpool via Fulham as highly rated as youngsters come. He’s got plenty of maturing still to do both on and off the field, but his talent is undoubtable.
That was on display as Liverpool’s reserve squad took on Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Premier League 2 fixture. Just after halftime, Elliott leveled the score at 2-2 with a stunning bicycle kick at the near post on a corner. The skill it took to essentially catch up to the ball as it floated parallel past him was fabulous, and his strike was true as it caught the Wolves goalkeeper off guard, unable to catch up to the pace of the shot.
The 16-year-old has been a regular for the Liverpool first-team squad in Cup matches but has then taken the field for the U-23 squad to get him some playing time, and clearly it’s done wonders.
Elliott came over from Fulham this past summer for an undisclosed fee given his age. He had already become the youngest player to appear in a Premier League game, coming on for the Whites in a game in May against Wolves with relegation looming.
After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).
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Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.
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West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.
It’s time for leg two of the Manchester derby in the semifinals of the EFL Cup (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET) at the Etihad Stadium.
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Manchester City lead 3-1 following their first-leg dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford. In theory, it’s a mere formality to reach the final at Wembley, where they would take on Aston Villa following their late dramatics on Tuesday.
Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have you covered here at Pro Soccer Talk with all of the reaction and analysis.
Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.
A roundup of all of the major transfer rumors, most notably those involving Premier League clubs, on Wednesday…
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Barcelona have reportedly had a $110-million bid for Richarlison rejected by Everton. That’s a mind-blowing number for a club like Everton to receive, but the Toffees apparently didn’t have to think long before saying “thanks, but no thanks.” Luis Suarez is expected to miss four months due to a knee injury, leaving the Blaugrana somewhat for a replacement. Everton, however, have no desire to lose a key member of their squad with little to no time to sign a replacement.
After adding winger Steven Bergwijn on Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur are heavily linked with a number of strikers as options to replace the injured Harry Kane. AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek is the most frequently linked (and most expensive) player coming out of the rumor mill, while Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has come up as an emergency option (he is reportedly open to the idea). However, Jose Mourinho has reportedly been told he has just $13 million to acquire a new forward after spending a combined $108 million on Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes.
Elsewhere in Tottenham rumors, full back Kyle Walker-Peters is expected to complete a loan move (without an option to buy) to Southampton in the very near future. The 22-year-old has been on the fringe of the first-team squad for what feels like five years now, but has never quite broken through. This could be Spurs putting into the shop window a player who they don’t believe is in their long-term plans in order to drive up his price tag come this summer.
Sheffield United look set to make a big push for a top-six finish, as the Blades are linked with moves for a pair of highly rated young players: Richairo Zivkovic, from Chinese side Changchun Yatai, and Sander Berge, from Genk. Zivkovic was one of the most highly touted youngsters in Europe before moving to China on a big-money deal; Berge has been linked with some of the biggest clubs across Europe in recent years, all the while the 21-year-old has become a fixture for the Belgian side.