Lennon eager to make amends for derby humiliation
Published 26/12/2011 | 05:00
Neil Lennon is looking for his Celtic side to make amends for their capitulation at Ibrox earlier in the season when Rangers visit Parkhead on Wednesday night.
The Hoops were brushed aside 4-2 in the first Old Firm derby in September and the champions went on to stretch their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to 15 points by November 5.
However, a Georgios Samaras double in the 2-1 home win over Kilmarnock on Saturday extended Celtic's winning run in the SPL to eight games and took Lennon's side to within a point of Rangers, who lost 2-1 at St Mirren -- a game in which they finished with 10 men.
The Celtic manager, though, remembered the frustrating trip to Govan when asked what type of game he expected in midweek.
"We didn't do ourselves justice at Ibrox, so I am looking for my team to be highly motivated and certainly play better," Lennon said. "If they do that they will give themselves a great chance of winning the game.
"(Rangers manager) Ally (McCoist) has tried a couple of different formations. He has played three up or one up. But, whatever formation we face on Wednesday, they are the champions and have had a good mentality over the last three or four years.
"But we are in a good place and I want us to go out and stamp our authority on the game if we can."
The Lurgan man accepts Celtic are in the ascendancy going into the game, which could see them go top of the table going into 2012.
"Yes, we have won eight in a row and the form is good," he said. "But we will have to play well, we will have to play strongly and have to play the occasion as best we can.
"We want to continue the winning form and if it means having to beat Rangers, so be it."
Lennon was not surprised by Rangers' defeat in Paisley but gave due respect to the Ibrox side.
"I was not surprised at all. Anything can happen -- particularly away from home," said the former Celtic skipper. "It has happened to us on a few occasions and St Mirren are a decent team at home.
"But I can't comment on Rangers.
"What I will say is that they are a point ahead and are current champions and our biggest rivals for the title and we will have to play very well to beat them."
Left-back Emilio Izaguirre, fully recovered from a broken ankle, was on the bench against Killie and defender Kelvin Wilson came on in the second half following his recovery from an Achilles problem. Lennon says both players have a chance of starting against Rangers.
"Izaguirre is in contention," he said. "We wanted to give him some game time but when the Killie goal went in, we wanted to shore things up. Kelvin Wilson is also definitely in contention. He was unlucky not to start against Kilmarnock."
Killie boss Kenny Shiels was disappointed with his players' reaction to going two goals down before substitute Danny Racchi fired in a consolation goal but knows he has to quickly turn his attention to the trip to St Johnstone on Wednesday . "We deserved to get something from the game," the manager. (© Independent News)