BRENDAN RODGERS took a swipe at the merchants of doom and gloom who insist Celtic are in perpetual state of crisis.

The critics opened fire of the champions after back-to-back defeats against Kilmarnock and Hearts in what admittedly were atrocious performances by a strangely under-par Hoops side.

The loss of six Premiership points invited today’s opponents into the title race, but Rodgers’ men can edge eight points clear with a victory at Parkhead while the Ibrox outfit would still have two games in hand.

Scotland’s title kings’ quest for a twelfth championship in 13 years got back on track with successive wins over Livingston and Dundee to set them up nicely for the second derby of the campaign with Celtic winning the first in Govan in September with a memorable strike from Kyogo Furuhashi.

Looking forward to the encounter, Rodgers said: “I think if you read or listen to everything you would feel we were in constant crisis mode here. That’s what I feel. But I don’t think that way at all.

“It’s another great game for us. I think going into that last [Rangers] game we were off the back of not a really good result. We had performed well against St Johnstone, but didn’t get the result.

“This time we are going in with a good feeling.”

Asked if talk of a crisis felt different to his first spell in charge, Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, replied: “It’s just levels, isn’t it? But, for me, there is no difference.

“I just think it’s maybe how it is out there. For me, we are still in a good place as a team. We are going to get better, we will hopefully improve the squad.

“Like I say, we’ll see where we get to at the end of the season.”

Quizzed if today’s meeting could define the season, the Irishman added: “Not really, no.

“We have already won at Ibrox, so whatever the result and we want to win the game, there are still many more games to play.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Rangers at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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