Rodgers eases title pressure

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has played down the effect of his side facing being under pressure in their bid to win an eight consecutive Scottish league title.

The Bhoys are six points clear at the top of the table, having maintained their advantage thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Hibernian on Wednesday evening, which was their fifth successive SPFL victory.

And Rodgers is calm about the prospects for the coming weeks, with Rangers still hoping to overhaul their rivals to be crowned Scottish champions for the first time since 2011.

He told reporters: "I have always tried to get my team to play without pressure and you can see that now because they are playing well.

"People talk about pressure, but we didn't concede a goal, we played very well and, while there are items we can look at, we are just enjoying our football.

"We can only focus on ourselves. There is a perception created around a challenge for the title that it's tight, but all you can do is focus on our own performance and play good football.

"If we do that, then we know there is a good chance we'll win."

Celtic are 1/7 to win the SPFL title, with Rangers priced at 5/1, while the Bhoys are 11/10 to win the Scottish Cup for a third season in a row.

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Gerrard rules out Morelos move

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has insisted that striker Alfredo Morelos will not be leaving the club during this transfer window.

The Ibrox boss says 'every player' in his squad has a price, and while he's not ruling that Morelos could be sold in the summer, the club's leading scorer won't be moving on in the coming days.

Ligue 1 outfit Nice, currently managed by Patrick Vieira, are reportedly weighing up an £8m approach for the Colombian forward.

Morelos joined Rangers in the summer of 2017 from Finnish outfit HJK Helsinki for a fee in the region of £1m. He has notched a dozen goals in 19 Scottish Premiership appearances this season, propelling Gerrard's side into a closely-fought title race with Celtic in doing so.

Rangers drew level on points with the champions when they defeated Brendan Rodgers' men at Ibrox before New Year, though the Bhoys have played a game less.

Gerrard's team return to competitive action on Wednesday evening when they go to Rugby Park to take on third placed Kilmarnock and their manager says nobody will be leaving during this window.

"There's been nothing concrete [from Nice]," said Gerrard.

"At the moment in this window, Alfredo won't be going anywhere. But every one of our players has got a price, I'm not naive enough to sit here and say they haven't.

"But none of my players will be going out the door, certainly in this window, so anyone who is preparing a bid or thinking of a bid will be wasting their time."

Rangers are 8/13 to win at Kilmarnock on Wednesday. Steve Clarke's side, one point behind their visitors, are 17/4 while the draw is 3/1.

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Ibrox return for Davis

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is thrilled to have been able to tempt Northern Ireland international Steven Davis back to Ibrox.

The influential midfielder moves to the Gers from Southampton on a six-month loan agreement, subject to international clearance.

Davis, who has made 226 appearances for Saints, has represented his country on 107 occasions and captained them at Euro 2016.

Gerrard said: "Steven is yet another fantastic addition to our squad and we are delighted to welcome him back to the club.

"He is vastly experienced at both club and international level and knows the club, the fans and the demands that come with wearing the Rangers jersey very well.

"He has previously captained the club and been captain for his country and Southampton, so we welcome yet another leader into our dressing room."

Davis moved to Ibrox, initially on a loan deal, in January 2008, and won a host of trophies with the club before moving to Southampton in the summer of 2012.

Meanwhile, former England international striker Jermain Defoe has joined Rangers on an 18-month loan from Bournemouth.

Defoe played for Charlton, West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Toronto FC and Sunderland before joining the Cherries 18 months ago.

Gerrard said of the veteran forward: "I'm delighted to be able to welcome Jermain to Rangers. He is an exceptionally talented striker and vastly experienced footballer who has scored goals at every club he has played for."

Rangers, 13/5 to win the Scotland Premiership this season, can be backed at 8/11 to beat Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on 23rd January.

Defoe nearing Ibrox switch

Jermain Defoe is closing on a move to Rangers, having agreed personal terms on an 18-month loan deal with the Glasgow outfit.

The 36-year-old striker is set to join up with former England teammate Steven Gerrard, now the manager at Ibrox.

The deal, reported to be agreed by various sources, is subject to Defoe passing a medical this weekend before he can join the Light Blues on their warm-weather training camp in Tenerife.

Defoe has yet to start a league game for Bournemouth this season and has recently voiced his desire to get first-team football elsewhere, with Eddie Howe seemingly content to allow him move on.

Under the terms of the deal Bournemouth are said to have two recall options – this summer and in January 2020 – on their player.

The former West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth and Sunderland striker is amongst the Premier League's all-time top ten leading goalscorers.

Gerrard has steered Rangers into a position to challenge city rivals Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title this season.

The Old Firm rivals are level on points going into the winter break, with Celtic top on goal difference and also having played one game less than Rangers.

On Saturday, Ryan Jack scored the only goal at Ibrox as Rangers ended a six-year wait for a league win over the Hoops, the first time Brendan Rodgers has lost a Glasgow derby fixture.

Rangers are now 7/2 to win the Scottish Premiership this season, with Celtic 1/5 to make it successive titles.

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Gerrard urges Rangers response

Steven Gerrard says his Rangers team has got to stand up and be counted when champions Celtic visit them on Saturday.

The Light Blues trail their Glasgow rivals by three points after being pegged back by Hibernian with a late leveller in a 1-1 draw at the Govan venue on Boxing Day.

The Hoops meanwhile had overcome Aberdeen at Pittodrie, coming out best in seven-goal thriller after a hat-trick from Scott Sinclair.

With Celtic also having played a game less, Gerrard says Rangers must regroup and pour themselves into the Old Firm atmosphere this weekend. Both sides will be playing their ninth and final games of a hectic December.

There's a lot of ice going on bumps and bruises," Gerrard said.

"But I've said to the players we have two options: we feel sorry for ourselves, or we regroup. We have 90 minutes to flip how everyone's feeling right now.

"The players all need to come to see me individually in the next couple of days to tell me if they're in or out."

Celtic will remain top going into the winter break unless Rangers win by four goals or more. Brendan Rodgers has yet to lose to Rangers during his two-and-a-half-years as Celtic manager.

Gerrard's men are 13/5 to win and the former England skipper is urging them to feed off the fans.

"For the Celtic game, we'll do everything we can to make the starting XI as strong as possible," said Gerrard.

"We have to try to use [the home crowd] to our advantage. We owe it to them to find 90 minutes then we can go and rest."

Celtic are 1/1 for the win, with a draw priced at 5/2.

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Gerrard has fan sympathy

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard feels the club's fans were well within their rights to boo the first half of their 2-1 victory at St Johnstone on Sunday.

The Lights Blues put in a lacklustre first-half display at McDiarmid Park before coming back to win the game in the second-half thanks to a brace from Alfredo Morelos.

That victory takes Gers to second place in the Scottish Premiership table and now they sit just one point behind arch rivals Celtic.

Gerrard has admitted he was worried about the first-performance in Perth and does not blame the traveling fans for showing their frustration at the half-time whistle.

"They were quite within their rights to boo even louder because that wasn't acceptable," he told RangersTV.

"We didn't have an individual doing the shirt justice. But they deserve credit for the second-half performance. I thought we played with purpose, we showed bravery, personality and character.

"We played like a team that really fancies getting involved at the top end of the table."

Rangers are 6/1 to win the Scottish Premiership title this season, while Old Firm rivals Celtic are 1/9 to retain their crown under manager Brendan Rodgers.

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Gerrard calls for killer touch

Rangers boss Steve Gerrard has urged his side to be far more clinical in front of goal, despite having seen them move back to the top of the Scottish Premiership.

The Gers took top spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Hamilton Academical at Ibrox on Sunday, but Gerrard was concerned that his team were unable to add to the third-minute strike from Daniel Candeias which proved to be the matchwinner.

He told reporters: "I'm happy with the win and the clean sheet, but we've got a lot to learn in terms of the performance.

"We put 22 corners in and over 30 crosses. We created enough opportunities and got into some really exciting areas of the pitch, but we had zero killer instinct. That's a concern.

"I'm not really interested – with all due respect – in being top of the league right now. We were top before, then went and lost and drew our next two games.

"So what's more important to me now is what we can learn from the performance. It's blatantly obvious we have to learn to kill teams off in the final third."

The Gers are back in action on Wednesday evening when they head to Easter Road to take on Hibernian, who are unbeaten in the last six meetings of the two sides.

Rangers are 19/20 to win the game in Edinburgh, with the draw priced at 11/4, while James Tavernier can be backed at 11/4 to score at any time.

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Hibs win ‘annoys’ Lennon

Neil Lennon was both delighted and annoyed after his Hibernian team defeated Celtic 2-0 at Easter Road on Sunday.

The Edinburgh side have allowed a good start to the season slip way with a poor couple of months, seeing them drop to eighth in the Scottish Premiership table.

The home side made the perfect start when Vykintas Slivka struck after 46 seconds with a cool finish inside the box.

Celtic were poor in the opening half and Florian Kamberi finished a superb second-half counter attack with an emphatic finish to give Hibs the daylight they required, making it back-to-back home league wins over Brendan Rodgers' side.

Lennon was delighted to see off his old team, but also somewhat frustrated that his team haven't matched that level of performance recently.

"I'm delighted, considering the circumstances and the lack of depth we had in the squad, it's a remarkable performance really," the Hibs boss told Sky Sports.

"It annoy me, when I consider some of the games we have played in the last couple of months, and then we go and produce a performance like that. Two weeks ago against Kilmarnock we were pathetic and then today we beat the champions, and we deserved to beat them as well."

Hibs host Rangers in Leith in midweek and Lennon is challenging his players to show the same form against Steven Gerrard's outfit.

"We've got another big game now on Wednesday night, we're not jumping through hoops at the minute," he added.

"We're starting to look like the team we can be again. But you can't save your performances for the big games. You've got to do it week in, week out. It gets us back in the mix now for top-six, which pleases me going into the New Year.

"We've got to build on the last two performances, because they've been excellent."

Hibs are 5/2 to beat Rangers on Wednesday. The Light Blues are 1/1 with the draw priced at 13/5.

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Halliday wants result for Gerrard

Andy Halliday says Rangers can repay manager Steven Gerrard for giving up their Premiership top spot by firing the club into the Europa League knockout stages.

Gers climbed to the league summit with their victory at Hearts but five dropped points against Aberdeen and Dundee have seen them slip back behind their Old Firm rivals Celtic.

Gerrard admitted his team's defeat to Derek McInnes' Dons before Sunday's stalemate at Dundee had revealed which members of his squad he could place his trust in.

But Halliday reckons the Light Blues can regain some of their manager's faith by beating Rapid Vienna at the Allianz Stadion to secure their place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League on Thursday.

He said: "We owe the manager a performance after the last two, 100 per cent.

"To put ourselves in the position we did after the Hearts game – to now be in the position we're in now – it shows how quickly football can change.

"But as quickly as it can change for the worse, it can just as quickly change again for the better.

"We know we're 90 minutes away from achieving something very special.

"We owe the manager that because the last two performances haven't been good enough.

"It's a massive game, the type we've not had for a number of years. So it's understandable that the fans are looking forward to it."

Rangers are 19/10 to win, 5/2 to draw and 6/4 to lose to Rapid Vienna.

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Clarke cautious despite top spot

Steve Clarke has played down the importance of his Kilmarnock side having taken top spot in the Scottish Premiership by virtue of a 2-0 win over Livingston.

Greg Stewart scored both goals as Killie took the honours at Rugby Park on Wednesday evening, which meant that they took over at the top as both Celtic and Rangers slipped up.

However, Clarke refused to get carried away by such a lofty position, especially with a meeting with Celtic next on the agenda on Saturday.

He told reporters after the win over Livi: "Listen, it's nice for the supporters – they'll have enjoyed the night and looking at the league table, but for us it's just another three points.

"(The players will) look at the table and realise that if you work hard and are a good group of players you'll pick up points in this league.

"And if you pick up enough points then sometimes you get quite close to the summit, but there's nobody getting carried away. We've got an awful lot of work to do.

"At the end of the season we can tally up the points and see who's where and decide if it's been a good season or not.

"But, in December it's difficult to do that as there are so many games to come."

Killie are 10/1 to top the Scottish Premiership this season if Celtic are excluded, with the Rugby Park outfit 25/1 to lift the Scottish FA Cup, having last done so in 1997.

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