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PostSubject: Week-end preview   Week-end preview I_icon_minitimeFri Feb 13, 2009 8:20 am

The Clydesdale Bank Premier League is back with a bang this weekend as the Old Firm square up in a crucial Sunday lunchtime showdown at Celtic Park.

Gordon Strachan's Celtic enjoy a narrow two-point advantage at the top of the table and beat Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox at the end of December. Of the 42 Old Firm games played since the SPL was set up in 1998, Celtic have won 20 and Rangers 14, with eight draws.

Home advantage was decisive in all four Glasgow derbies last season but it has counted for little in 2008/09 and Rangers triumphed 4-2 on their last trip to Celtic Park on August 31. Celtic were held to a 0-0 draw at Inverness CT in their most recent SPL outing while Walter Smith's men saw off Dundee United 2-0 in fixture round 24 a fortnight ago.

There are five games on Saturday, including a key Tynecastle clash in the battle for European places. Hearts entertain an Aberdeen outfit just a point below them in the table. It was 1-1 in the capital back in October but the Dons ended a run of five games without a win in this fixture when Lee Miller scored the only goal in a post-Christmas encounter at Pittodrie.

Dundee United are hanging on to third place on goal difference as they prepare to face bottom club Inverness CT at Tannadice. United have beaten Caley Thistle twice already but the visitors are in good shape after a 0-0 draw with Celtic and a cup win against Kilmarnock and Terry Butcher's side are determined to close the four-point gap on Falkirk.

The Bairns are away to St Mirren, having taken just one point out of six against the Buddies, but boosted by back-to-back wins over Aberdeen and Hearts in league and cup. Saints are seeking their
first Clydesdale Bank Premier League success of 2009 in what is only the second match at the new St Mirren Park - the first ended in a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock.

Motherwell and Hamilton Accies go into the Lanarkshire derby at Fir Park in fine form and locked together on 29 points. Mark McGhee's men have strung together a six-match unbeaten SPL sequence since going down 2-0 at New Douglas Park while Accies were victorious in all four January fixtures in the league, keeping clean sheets in all of them. Manager of the Month Billy Reid saw his side beaten at Fir Park last time out but Hamilton won there in the League Cup.

Hibernian's top-six status is under threat from several challengers, among them Kilmarnock. Jim Jefferies' squad will move to within a point of their visitors if they can end a poor run of results at Rugby Park and make it three wins out of three against Mixu Paatelainen's troops.
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