Peter Lovenkrands has told Celtic they need to beat Rangers in January’s crunch clash – or forget about any hopes they have of retaining their title.
With a 16 point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, Steven Gerrard’s side are cruising as they bid to end Celtic dreams of a 10th consecutive title.
While Celtic have three games in hand over their rivals, the disparity between the sides has been massive this season, and it already looks like a tough task to claw back the deficit.
As reported by the Daily Record, ex-Rangers star Lovenkrands has piled the pressure on Celtic, saying, “Celtic are getting momentum now and if they win those games in hand they claw it back to seven points, but the Old Firm game is huge for Celtic.
“They need to win.
“If it was a draw it would be much worse for Celtic than it is for Rangers.”
Gers won’t be scared
The Celtic fixture on January 2 will be a ferocious start to the year for Rangers, and a win could act as a positive springboard for the rest of the campaign as they hunt domestic and European success.
The Gers certainly won’t be afraid to take on their rivals, with Gerrard’s outfit coming out on top in the last two match-ups, a 2-0 win at Celtic Park on October 17 earlier this season, and a 2-1 victory in December 2019, also away from home.
Gerrard and opposing manager Neil Lennon have locked horns eight times since their respective appointments, with three wins apiece alongside two draws.
More important than their previous history will be the contrasting form of both sides this season.
Rangers have only lost one game this season, a 3-2 defeat to St Mirren in the Scottish League Cup, while remaining unbeaten in 20 Premiership games so far, which includes 18 victories. They are also in the Europe League knock-out stage, due to resume again in February.
Celtic, meanwhile, crashed out of the Europa League group stage, finishing bottom of Group H with a sole victory to their name, in a meaningless last round game against Lille.
Rangers will go into the January match more confident than ever, and will look to extend their lead at the top even further.
Before the Old Firm clash, Rangers play their final game of 2020 at St Mirren on December 30, looking to avenge their League Cup defeat earlier this month.
In other Rangers news, Barisic bounces back against Hibernian after recent fan criticism.