'Different animal' Celtic fire another warning to Rangers as further player reveals achilles issues

Left-back knows Rugby Park is tricky venue but champions are in much better place now

Celtic are now “a different animal” as they look to officially seal the Premiership title this week and then land the Scottish Cup at the end of the month.

That’s the opinion of left-back Greg Taylor, who was part of the Celtic team that defeated Rangers 2-1 to stand on the brink of retaining their championship crown. The victory at Parkhead moved Celtic six points clear of their Old Firm rivals at the top of the league with just two games to play. Celtic’s goal difference is also superior by seven and they will be crowned title winners on Tuesday if Rangers fail to defeat Dundee at Ibrox, or on Wednesday if Brendan Rodgers’ men avoid defeat away at Kilmarnock.

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There was a mixture of jubilation and relief at Celtic Park at full-time on Saturday. Under manager Philippe Clement, Rangers have rallied in the title race and were favourites back in March to win the league as Celtic fell short of their usual levels, not helped by injuries to key players. But with the spine of the team back in place for the run-in, Celtic have wrestled the initiative back. Taylor now wants to win the league as quickly as possible and then defeat Rangers once again at Hampden on May 25 in the Scottish Cup final.

Celtic's Greg Taylor celebrates the 2-1 win over Rangers.Celtic's Greg Taylor celebrates the 2-1 win over Rangers.
Celtic's Greg Taylor celebrates the 2-1 win over Rangers.

“We’re peaking at the right time," said Taylor, “but it’s important to recognise that there’s still football left in this season for us. That’s the real focus in that changing room. We know there is still a job to be done in the league, then it’s about hopefully taking good form into the cup final. We want to win the [Kilmarnock] game, of course we do. It’s the next game and that’s always the most important. We know now that we can win the league in that game, so the focus is on going there to try to win, at a difficult venue against a team who have done really well this season.”

Celtic have slipped up twice in league and cup matches at Rugby Park this season but when it was put to Taylor that they are now an improved team from those 2023 defeats, the Scotland internationalist concurred. “I completely agree,” he said. “Definitely. That’s the key point – if you look back at the team then compared to now, we’re a totally different animal.”

Celtic were driven to victory against Rangers by their captain Callum McGregor, who excelled in midfield alongside Matt O’Riley. The 30-year-old has played through the pain barrier to help his team after suffering an Achilles injury at the end of February. Taylor labelled his skipper “a colossus” and stated just how important he is to the team.

“He’s a winner, isn’t he?” added Taylor. “He leads by example and drags other boys with him. He’s just a colossus in the middle of the park. A real leader for us. He inspires other people. He makes other people around him better, which is an unbelievable trait to have as well as his individual performance [level]. It’s amazing to have him. Achilles tendonitis isn’t good. I’ve suffered with it and still suffer with it, so I feel him there – it’s tough in the morning.”



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