Brendan Rodgers: Rangers could play into Celtic’s hands

Brendan Rodgers will be looking to make it five wins out of six against Rangers this season. Picture: John Devlin
Brendan Rodgers will be looking to make it five wins out of six against Rangers this season. Picture: John Devlin
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Brendan Rodgers believes Rangers could play into Celtic’s hands if they loosen the shackles in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership encounter at Ibrox.

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The Light Blues were criticised for their reticence, especially in the first half, of Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat at Hampden where the Hoops coasted to a 2-0 victory.

The pressure is on Rangers and their boss Pedro Caixinha to take the game to Celtic this time to look for their first Old Firm win in six encounters this season.

That expectation was noted by Hoops boss Rodgers, whose side are unbeaten domestically this season and on course for the treble.

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He said: “It is their home game and they will look to maybe press the game a little bit more.

“But it is always difficult and if they do decide to press more then it can be even better for us.

“It will open up the space behind the pressing line, a big space and we have got speed in our team.

“But we will prepare as we normally do for a tough game. We played very, very well on Sunday.

“The only disappointment was the scoreline didn’t really reflect the dominance of the game.

“We will respect the opponent which we always do but really look to impose our style on our game as we have done all season.”

Celtic are unbeaten in five Old Firm matches this season including a 2-1 win at Ibrox in December.

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The former Swansea and Liverpool boss has no problems with another one arriving so soon.

“It is one of the world’s great derby games,” said Rodgers, who will have striker Moussa Dembele missing through a hamstring injury but skipper Scott Brown available after his recent red card at Ross County was reduced to yellow on appeal.

“Obviously they normally don’t come around that fast but we always look forward to it.

“Our game at Ibrox last time, there was a great atmosphere with both sets of supporters, it was a good game and we came out on top and looked really strong in the game.

“We are planning to win the game, that’s how we go into every game we play but obviously we respect the opponent.

“These games are never comfortable. They are always tough games, they are always competitive.”

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