Celtic should relish the chance to deliver a big early blow to Rangers' season

By John McGinley

November 4, 2019

Celtic’s season is shaping up very nicely indeed.

Victory over Hibernian on Saturday, stretching our run of consecutive cup wins to 30, ensured that we’ll once again be battling at Hampden for the chance to lift the Scottish League Cup.

With Rangers also coming through their semi-final test on Sunday, a mouth-watering occasion is now on the horizon and it’s one we should relish.

The chase for silverware in Scotland is warming up to red hot levels and for Celtic it’s a huge opportunity to deliver a massive early blow to the Ibrox side’s season.

In what is rapidly becoming a genuine title race, the fixture will not only decide who wins the competition, but is one that could have big ramifications heading into 2020.

Stopping Rangers progress in its tracks

The Ibrox outfit haven’t reached a national final since the Mark Warburton days, back in 2016. We haven’t had the chance to lay down a marker on one of these massive occasions for quite a while.

That Gerrard has guided them to a final Hampden date for the first time in three years is a significant moment for them. It’s tangible evidence that progress has been made over the last 18 months.

However, Celtic lifting silverware at their expense would show that ultimately not much has changed at all in Scottish football.

It would prove there’s no changing of the guard, we’re as good as ever and if they want to win things then they’ll have to improve significantly from where they are currently.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Title implications

For years there’s been a lot of hype about Rangers’ ability to challenge for the Scottish Premiership. Much of it has been bluster that has ultimately come undone.

This season though it has to be said that Gerrard’s side have been remarkably consistent in the top-flight. Despite losing to us at Ibrox, they’ve matched us after 11 matches and only sit in second because of a difference of one goal.

There’s no sign of that changing any time soon, but beating them in a Hampden final could see their confidence shatter heading deeper into the season.

Combined with a potential derby victory at Celtic Park on December 29th, it’s a derby double header that could prove to be season-defining.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Confidence comes from our record

Of course a derby final is a double edged sword. Just as it is an opportunity for us to inflict significant damage on Rangers, they could do the same to us.

Followers of the Ibrox side aren’t exactly going to be shy about their chances of a League Cup victory over the next few weeks.

However, our confidence is supported by evidence.

We’ve won our last 30 matches in cup competitions. It’s a run that stretches all the way back to the birth of the Brendan Rodgers era. It’s not as if we’ve scraped by either. We’ve scored a massive 95 goals and conceded just 11 during this cup streak.

As Lennon noted in his post-match comments on Saturday, the mentality of this Celtic team is quite remarkable.

It’s unlikely to be an easy 90 minutes, but this team’s cup record, combined with our recent record in general against Rangers, means that we’ll be favourites come kick-off.

This is an opportunity with big consequences that we should relish.