Celtic boss Neil Lennon targetting win in Old Firm derby,
Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League
- Celtic Park
- Wednesday, 28 December
- 1945 GMT
- BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has dismissed the notion of his side being favourites ahead Wednesday's Old Firm derby with Rangers.
The encounter is the eighth between the sides this year and a ninth league win in a row would put Celtic top of the table for the first time this season.
"I don't think there is much between the teams," said Lennon.
"Our form has been slightly better, but they're the champions and they won the last one. There's not much in it."
A run of eight consecutive wins in the Scottish Premier League has seen Celtic close the gap on Rangers to one point, having trailed by 15 in early November.
Rangers have slipped up in recent weeks, losing to St Mirren and Kilmarnock, but Lennon insists he'll still treat the Ibrox side as a significant threat.
"We know we go top if we win and our focus is on winning the game," said Lennon.
"We want to make our home advantage count and keep the winning run going. That's very important to the players.
"But Rangers are always dangerous opposition, regardless of timing. I don't think the mentality will change for either team for this game."
Old Firm games are often heated affairs and Lennon has stressed the importance of maintaining a cool head.
"I am hoping my players don't get themselves involved in those situations," he added.
"I am delighted with them. They have been exemplary this year under difficult circumstances at times.
"We have had a couple of red cards but we have told the players that discipline is vital.
"It is always important to have 11 players on the pitch and that was hammered into me by Martin O'Neill, Gordon Strachan and even Dario Gradi in my younger years, so discipline is very important."
Celtic may be the form team going into Wednesday's Old Firm derby but Joe Ledley reckons league leaders Rangers start as favourites.
Ledley is wary of a side that have conceded just four goals in 10 league matches away from home
"We're second, so we're the underdogs," explained Celtic's Welsh midfielder.
"We are at home, which is maybe a bit of an advantage, but it doesn't matter if we're favourites or underdogs.
"We're on a good run at the moment and we want that to continue. But we know it's going to be a very difficult game. Rangers will be up for it as well."
"Rangers are still a good team - they are top of the league and they aren't going to make it easy for us. They will look to defend well and be solid as a unit.
"They are strong all over the park, so it will be tough to break them down.
"They will be disappointed after losing at St Mirren and they'll be out to prove that they can win.
"We just need to concentrate on ourselves and not get carried away with all the atmosphere and the build-up.
"It is hard but your learn. In my first Old Firm game we didn't do too well but we've got experience in the team now."
A ninth win in a row would put Celtic top of the pile for the first time this season.
"We stuck at it when we weren't playing so well and it would be a great achievement to be top for the new year," said Ledley, who may well to fill in at left-back for the big game.