Brendan Rodgers insists Rangers will be the team feeling the pinch when Celtic travel to Ibrox for the Old Firm derby on New Year’s Eve.
Celtic lead second-placed Rangers by a whopping 16 points atop the Scottish Premiership, having played a game fewer.
Rodgers’ side ran out convincing 5-1 winners at Parkhead in September, and have dropped just two points from their 19 league outings this season.
Although favourites to triumph over their old foes on Saturday, Celtic will be free of the weight of expectation, according to Rodgers, who believes that Rangers will be under severe pressure to deliver in front of their home fans.
“We are full of confidence and looking to impose our style on the game,” Rodgers said in Thursday’s media conference.
“In terms of where we’re at, and where they are, a number of points behind, with Aberdeen and Hearts closing in behind them, then of course they will want to win the game as much as we will.
“They’re protecting an unbeaten run at home and their supporters will expect them to win. That all points to pressure.
“I expect a very tough game. It’ll be a really intense game and a great battle, I’m sure.”
Rodgers’ opposite number Mark Warburton, meanwhile, believes he should be judged on Rangers’ season as a whole, not just on their clashes with their cross-city rivals.
“It has to be where we finish,” said Warburton. “I understand [the comparisons to Celtic] and please don’t think for one second I’m understating it.
“But, at the end of the season come May, where do Rangers come in the league?
“We spoke at the beginning of the season about being highly competitive and learning and gelling as a team over the course of the season.
“So, if we do that and grab second spot, will we have had a good season? You tell me. Are we a better team than
we were at the start of the season? Of course we are.
“When you’ve got new players coming in who have only played four games, of course you’re going to be better. We’re always striving to be better, but we’re in a good place right now.”
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