Scott Brown has said that Celtic’s Ibrox defeat back in December will “always hurt” the Hoops squad.
Celtic’s run of 12 consecutive Glasgow derby games without defeat came to a stuttering halt at Ibrox last year. A dreadful performance on the day from an injury-ravaged Celtic led to Rangers winning 1-0. It was their first win over Celtic at Ibrox since 2012.
It threatened to halt Celtic’s momentum at the time too. The win pulled Rangers level at the top of the Premiership with the Hoops. Celtic, however, had a game in-hand.
Fortunately, since the Winter break, Celtic have kicked on. Despite the managerial upheaval, the Hoops have won all but one domestic game since their return to sit 10 points clear at the top. But Brown told Celtic TV that the memory of that Ibrox day will always hurt the players.
“It will always hurt. I think we went on a record-breaking run against them as well, 12 games undefeated against them.
“It was great for us to go on that run but it was always going to end eventually and just the way it ended we didn’t play that well at Ibrox and we know that ourselves.
“But we bounced back, we came back from Dubai and had a good wee mini pre-season under Brendan and the lads and it spurred us on for the last half of the season.”
Motivation for Sunday already in the bag
If the players are hurting as much as Brown believes they are, then they should have all the motivation necessary to hammer Rangers back into their place on Sunday.
Despite the run of form since winter, the game in December still rankles. It won’t feel as though we’re truly over that one unless we overcome Rangers at Parkhead on Sunday. Doing so in convincing fashion would also be ideal timing.
Everything is in place for Celtic here. Rangers are wobbling as their title challenge slowly but surely gets set to crash. Steven Gerrard is under some big pressure to make the gap as close as possible. Another defeat to Celtic and it will sink the Ibrox club into a real depression so close to their Scottish Cup exit to Aberdeen.
There is so much riding on Sunday’s fixture, and it should be exciting the Celtic players. Watching the Rangers squad swagger around Ibrox at full-time three months back must fill the Hoops with fire.
So come kick-off, Celtic need to be in Rangers’ faces from the off. If Brown’s words are anything to by, the memory of December should still be fresh.