Brendan Rodgers: This is the strongest Rangers side I've seen

Celtic could have gone into next weekend's derby match against Rangers at Ibrox nine points clear of their closest rivals had their home game against struggling Dundee not been postponed on Wednesday.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: GettyCeltic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: Getty
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: Getty

As it stands, Graeme Murty’s side have an opportunity to reduce the gap between the pair to just three points, although the champions have a game in hand and a vastly superior goal difference.

Brendan Rodgers has yet to taste defeat in eight meetings with Rangers, winning six of them and drawing the two games in which Murty was in charge, and the Irishman believes that the team fashioned by the current incumbent is stronger than any of the others he has yet faced.

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“What they’ve probably been striving for in my time here is that bit of consistency and stability and I think Graeme has done a very, very good job of that,” he claimed.

“They look to have a better spirit. That’s clear – and Graeme’s looking to maximise what he can get out of the players. They’ve brought some experienced guys in – Jamie Murphy I liked even when he was up here. He’s a good player.

“Russell Martin has been around a long time. Greg Docherty is a player who’s a supporter of the club, which always gives you a little injection as well.

“So I think they’re in a better place than at any time since I’ve been up here.”

Not that Rodgers, right, has any trepidation ahead of his next visit to Govan. “We cannot wait for that game,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed them, home and away, and our performances away from home have been absolutely brilliant. Both matches last season were very good in different ways, particularly the second one, and earlier this season we really dominated them. Of course, they’re all pressure games but it’s a huge pressure for them to be playing at home, which can be difficult for them. Their record is better away than at Ibrox.

“The free week is very useful for us. Instead of just playing and recovering we can actually do some specific work. This is the important time of the season and everyone who is chosen will be in there on merit – no-one will be getting game time to improve their fitness.”