There are elements Neil Lennon believes his Celtic team can utilise in their battle royal with Rangers this afternoon. His team’s attacking fulcrum Odsonne Edouard is an obvious one. So too is home advantage.
The location of the team’s third meeting this season is entitled to cause more than a little anxiety to Lennon’s opposite number Steven Gerrard. It is just over nine years since Rangers won at Celtic Park. It is more than four since any live league game was lost by the nine-in-a-row chasing champions – the only top-flight encounter they have lost since December 2015 proving to be a final-day defeat by Aberdeen in May 2018 that came a full month on from the title being sewn up.
Celtic’s home form across all competitions this season has eclipsed anything they have put together across the first half of any recent campaign. They have won 18 of 19 games in their own backyard; the aberration being the 4-3 loss to Cluj that ended their Champions League qualifying hopes.
In Celtic and Rangers claiming 96 from 105 points in games against other sides in the Premiership, their face-offs inevitably take on greater import. And for Lennon, his team making today’s confrontation count could be all about location, location, location.
“It’s really impressive consistency from both teams,” said Lennon of the great rivals’ point-gathering against the rest of the league. “They’re winning games and in the main they’re winning them well. It may boil down to the games against each other. I can’t predict that, you never know what might happen in the second half of the season.
“If you take this game in isolation, it’s the next one so it’s the most important regardless of the circumstances. We’re at home and I think that gives us a big advantage. Our home form has been spectacular this season. We’ve not played them at home yet – we’ve had one at a neutral venue and one at Ibrox and won both which gives us a comfort going into the game.
“It’s almost like a cup final again. We’ve also got Edouard back which is a big plus for us. Sometimes you’re only as good as your centre-forward and he’s one of the best around so that’s a big plus.”