LET the fun begin. With temperatures set to soar in Scotland this weekend, the heat is on for Celtic and Rangers in the final Premiership instalment of its showcase fixture.

No manager in Old Firm history has enjoyed the success-rate in these encounters that Brendan Rodgers has. And it’s little wonder the Northern Irishman expects to relish the occasion tomorrow given his record of 12 wins, three draws and just a single defeat in the derbies across his two terms in charge of Celtic to date.

The Herald: The Celtic players celebrate Adam Idah's late goal at Ibrox with manager Brendan RodgersThe Celtic players celebrate Adam Idah's late goal at Ibrox with manager Brendan Rodgers (Image: SNS)

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With a full squad to pick from, on the back of a spirited and convincing 3-0 win over third force Hearts at Celtic Park last weekend, and having gone unbeaten in the three derbies to date during the current campaign despite two of those being contested at Ibrox, it is hard to envisage how Philippe Clement’s side punctures that bubble, especially given Rangers’ recent travails on the road which have allowed Celtic to pull three points clear at this critical stage of the campaign.

Tomorrow’s encounter arrives with the kind of fanfare inspired by Robin Williams’ Genie to signal the entrance of Prince Ali to Agrabah hoping to woo the Sultan’s daughter, Jasmine. The prize on offer in this instance, meanwhile, is the glittering Premiership trophy currently residing in the Celtic Park trophy room, and for the rug to be pulled from under Rodgers' feet now it would have to be some kind of magic carpet.

While all eyes will be on Celtic Park tomorrow afternoon, it was the first derby of the season at Ibrox back in September, when Michael Beale was still at the helm of the Ibrox club, that could prove to have the greatest sway on the destination of the silverware this month. In a match that almost flew in under the radar, Celtic prevailed that day thanks to a Kyogo Furuhashi strike on the stroke of half-time and by the time Beale had been relieved of his duties at the start of October and was replaced by Clement, many had already written the season off for the Ibrox club.

Commendably, Clement clawed back that deficit as Celtic faltered, but it was again in the derby at the turn of the year that Rodgers’ side showed there remains a gulf in quality between the two sides, even if Celtic are capable of a wobble every now and again.

The Herald: Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his goal against Rangers on December 30Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his goal against Rangers on December 30 (Image: SNS)

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In the return meeting at Parkhead, Celtic surged into a 2-0 lead just two minutes into the second half, their rivals appeared to capitulate by going down to 10 men when Leon Balogun was ordered off for a last-man wipeout of Daizen Maeda with just under 20 minutes to go, before James Tavernier salvaged some pride with a late, and wonderfully taken, free-kick strike to post a 2-1 scoreline. It ended up closer than it should have been for Rodgers and Celtic. One diamond in the rough for Rangers this season may be that if any phrase could sum up Rodgers’ first season back in Glasgow, that is probably it.

Celtic are currently sitting pretty on 84 points, three ahead of Rangers in second, and with a superior goal difference which provides a further buffer to their lead with just three games to play. Victory against their rivals tomorrow would give them a six-point and minimum six-goal advantage with just six points left to play for. But they should be further out in front at this stage. Perhaps that is cause for some embers of optimism to burn on among the Rangers support.

Despite any peaks and troughs in form, changes of manager across the city or injury crises this season, however, Celtic have been on course for three in a row ever since they won that first Old Firm of the season at Ibrox back in September.

Tomorrow’s encounter in Parkhead, mercifully the final edition of the away-fan shutout period, could allow the SPFL to take back the deposit on their helicopter hire for the final weekend should the Scottish champions prevail.

The Herald: Rangers forward Rabbi Matondo celebrates his last-gasp equaliser against Celtic at IbroxRangers forward Rabbi Matondo celebrates his last-gasp equaliser against Celtic at Ibrox (Image: SNS)

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Home advantage aside, Celtic’s dominance in the fixture this season is stark. In the most recent encounter at Ibrox, last season's treble-winners came flying out the blocks and soared into a 2-0 first-half lead, only for Tavernier again to give Rangers a route back, this time from the penalty spot.  With the bulk of the second period to go on this occasion, Abdallah Sima was able to find an unlikely leveller with just four minutes remaining, before Celtic substitute Adam Idah appeared to have won it again for the visitors.

But, again, Rodgers’ side let their rivals off the hook and Rabbi Matondo struck in injury time to prevent Rodgers making it a clean sweep in the derbies since his return to Parkhead last summer. But make no mistake, that derby was a must-win encounter for Rangers at home to their rivals and they were never really in a position to clinch all three points.

So, while Clement led his players on a victory lap of Ibrox at full-time, the result in reality bolstered Rodgers’ already haughty record in the fixture with the 3-3 draw in Govan. This dominance will most likely ensure the Premiership trophy remains in Parkhead this summer.

The Herald: Philippe Clement celebrates his side's 3-3 draw with Celtic at Ibrox last monthPhilippe Clement celebrates his side's 3-3 draw with Celtic at Ibrox last month (Image: SNS)

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Whichever team performs best in the derbies will almost always lift the silverware at the end of the season. It’s hardly rocket science. Even if both sides win every match against all the other teams, there are 12 points to play for in the derbies and that offers a gaping chasm in terms of the final standings. Celtic’s seven points collected out of a possible nine so far this season is the reason they currently occupy pole position, and that hot streak of form gives them the clear edge for this one.

With the Met Office signalling that it will be hotter in Glasgow tomorrow than it will be in Ibiza, Rodgers will be looking to have his fun in the sun as the supporters arrive expecting to get the three-in-a-row party started early at Celtic Park.