Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has tipped Celtic to get the job done at Ibrox on Sunday.
Neil Lennon’s side take the trip to Govan looking to re-establish their 16-point lead at the top of the Premiership. Rangers’ recent collapse has been difficult to ignore, with Steven Gerrard’s outfit dropping a laughable 12 points since the winter break ended.
Celtic, meanwhile, have yet to taste defeat domestically in 2020. They’ve won all but one of their domestic matches since returning to action, with a 2-2 draw at Livingston the only black mark on our record.
And that appears to be enough for Nicholas to tip Celtic to take the spoils at Ibrox. Speaking in his Daily Express column (10/03, page 55), the former Celtic forward said the following:
“I believe Celtic will go to Ibrox on Sunday with a real point to prove. They will want to lay down a marker that they are the undisputed top team in the country. Rangers may have caught them up in a game here and there, but Celtic will be determined to show they can still win at Ibrox when they need to.
“The Gers players came out after their December 29 Old Firm win eager to tell everyone they had caught up with Celtic. We knew they had closed the gap, knew they could beat them in a head-to-head, but the big question was could they see the Hoops off?
“The players thought they had the answers but, clearly, they were wrong. Celtic are tough, while Odsonne Edouard is a class act and Leigh Griffiths is scoring goals for fun. I’d back Celtic to come away with a win to widen the gap at the top of the table.”
Sunday is no free hit
Given our massive gap at the top of the Premiership, there could be an argument to say that going to Ibrox is a bit of a free hit. A defeat wouldn’t be a catastrophe in terms of the league table after all.
However, that would be totally missing the point. It’s like Nicholas says, Celtic have a massive point to prove when we go to Govan this weekend. This isn’t just about gaining three points to stretch our gap at the top of the table, it’s about pride and bragging rights.
Rangers, regardless of how we may want to dress it up, have dominated us in the last two games. It doesn’t matter how the league table looks – that has to stop now. Going to Ibrox and picking up the points, regardless of how we do it, would be a sign that Celtic have learned from previous mistakes.
If we lose the game you would still fancy us to win the league title. You would still fancy us to win it comfortably too. But there would always be that lingering concern about how we couldn’t get the job done in some of these derby games.
You can’t expect to go out and run Rangers over every time we face them. They have decent players and players who have proven they can capitalise on our mistakes. However, the manner of our performances against them must change. If they’re to win the game this Sunday, they better be made to work as hard as they’ve ever worked to do it.
But there’s a different feeling in the air heading into this one. Celtic look reinvigorated, and it will be down to Neil Lennon and co to reflect that on the pitch.