By Adefunmiloye Alani

21st Aug, 2021 | 5:10pm

Neil Lennon expects tough title race between Rangers and Celtic

Rangers host Celtic on August 29 in the first Old Firm derby of the new season, and Neil Lennon is expecting a keenly-contested clash.

Steven Gerrard’s men have had a shaky start to the new season, getting dumped out of the Champions League and already losing a Premiership game after going last season without defeat.

Next Sunday’s clash with Celtic could be a chance for Rangers to lay down the marker and prove their title credentials for the new campaign.

However, Lennon reckons it is going to be a tough race and believes the Europa League play-offs results on Thursday would have a huge say on the derby.

The former Celtic boss said on BBC’s Breakfast Show (via Daily Record): “Yeah, it will be close. I don’t think Rangers have hit the ground running as yet, obviously, they had that spell where they lost a few games and the European tie is still in the balance.

“It’s a big week for both Celtic and Rangers, I don’t think either tie is a foregone conclusion and then obviously it’s a big game at the weekend as well.

“It depends on how results go midweek, psychologically if both teams go through then the game is in the balance but if one goes out then the other team psychologically gets the upper hand.”

Interesting

Rangers have won four of the last five Old Firm games, drawing the other one, and we are definitely going to be heading into the clash full of belief.

Three of those victories have come at Ibrox, and with a full house excluding Celtic fans expected next weekend, the Bears stars have been handed a massive boost.

Nevertheless, it would be naive to ignore the Hoops’ recent form under manager Ange Postecoglou.

Celtic are a different side under the Greek than they were under Lennon, and they will definitely fancy their chances against us.

They are strong favourites to land a spot in the Europa League group stage after a 2-0 win over Az Alkmaar in the first-leg, and Rangers are the ones with work to do after a slender 1-0 win over Alashkert.

No matter what happens on Thursday, both teams have something to prove at Ibrox, and we are surely going to get a cracker of a game.

In other Rangers news, Sky Sports pundit blasts Bears after major development.