Celtic still have plenty to play for against Rangers in Sunday's Old Firm, says Andy Walker

Sky Sports' Andy Walker: "Celtic have to show their fans they can beat this season's champions and end their winning run"; watch Celtic vs Rangers on Sunday, coverage begins on Sky Sports Football and Main Event at 11am; kick-off 12pm

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: Rangers' Connor Goldson (left) holds off Celtic's Odsonne Edouard during a Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium, on January 02, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Rangers will be favourites in Sunday's Old Firm, but Celtic must show their fans they can beat this season's champions and end their winning run, says Andy Walker

With Rangers on course to go unbeaten in this year's extraordinary Scottish Premiership campaign, the pressure is on Celtic to give their supporters something to cheer about when they entertain the newly crowned champions at Celtic Park on Sunday.

Earlier this week, former manager Brendan Rodgers had encouraged his old club to "show humility and class and be a sporting team" by giving Steven Gerrard and his men a guard of honour.

    Fans or no fans, in my view there was no chance of Celtic giving Rangers a guard of honour.

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    If Rodgers was still in charge at Celtic, he would have the authority to do as he saw fit. He earned it through his enormous success. He was also clever enough to detach himself from the board and didn't get too close to them. It certainly won't be up to interim manager John Kennedy to make that type of call for this Sunday's game.

        As Steven Gerrard said himself two years ago when Rangers had the opportunity to offer Celtic a guard of honour at Ibrox for clinching their eighth successive Premiership title, "the club have made a decision on that and decided there won't be a guard of honour, so my thoughts are irrelevant. I will follow what I'm told to do by the people in charge of the club."

        preview image 0:32
        Former Celtic captain Gary Caldwell agrees with Rodgers that Celtic should 'show Rangers respect' and give them a guard of honour on Sunday

        Despite Neil Lennon insisting that Celtic would have done it if the roles had been reversed, the simple truth is that Celtic and Rangers cannot stand the sight of one another.

        After being humiliated in their own backyard too many times in recent years following their administration and subsequent liquidation, Rangers slashed the number of Celtic fans allowed into Ibrox as low as possible.

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        Since the early 80s when Ibrox was redesigned, around 7,000 Celtic fans have been accommodated in the entire Broomloan stand behind one of the goals. I was in there a few times myself as a fan and loved the tension of being in a hostile environment as an away supporter.

        Now? Anything between 600-800 away fans getting squeezed into the corner is the norm and I doubt you'll ever see a sizeable Celtic support at Ibrox again.

        For their part, Celtic followed suit. No sooner had Rangers made their stance known, Celtic did the same and Rangers fans get the same pitiful number shoehorned into a small corner of Celtic Park.

        preview image 0:34
        Celtic and Rangers can only hope their supporters heed their calls to avoid gathering at Celtic Park on Sunday, says former Hoops defender Mark Wilson

        When Covid is under control and we can get back to some sort of normality, both clubs should go the whole hog and make the home games exclusive to their own fans. Police Scotland would certainly approve.

        The actions from both clubs is a great pity. It was undoubtedly the highlight of my career to take part in this fabulous fixture and score at both Celtic Park and Ibrox. It's also the showpiece occasion for Scottish football and we've lost a great selling point.

        Sure, there's plenty of hostility, but players love the edge that two sets of partisan supporters bring to their game inside a stadium full of colour.

        As for the clash itself on Sunday, there are a number of incentives for Celtic to get the better of their bitter rivals.

        They have to accept and recognise that Rangers have been a far better side this season and use that as motivation to ensure they are good enough to beat the best.

        Rangers will be favourites for the win, they have earned that tag. But Celtic have to show their fans they can beat this season's champions and end their winning run. That's more important than a guard of honour.
        Andy Walker

        For a start, it's unheard of for either club to go through the four fixtures in the season and not score a goal. Celtic have failed to score against Rangers in the two played so far this season and they must show they have the ability to put a very impressive title-winning defence under pressure.

        In the last game at Ibrox in January, Celtic played well and controlled the first half. But up against an inspired Allan McGregor, they couldn't make the breakthrough and eventually, a lack of discipline cost them the game.

        Rangers 1-0 Celtic 2:55
        Highlights of the last Old Firm game in the Scottish Premiership as Rangers beat Celtic 1-0

        Nir Bitton made a stupid decision to haul Alfredo Morelos to the ground and was correctly sent off. Rash decisions or a moment of madness can have a dramatic effect on the result.

        Rangers will be favourites for the win, they have earned that tag. But Celtic have to show their fans they can beat this season's champions and end their winning run.

        Rangers 0:59
        Celtic will be out to end Rangers' unbeaten record and spoil their title celebration party in Sunday's Old Firm game, says Kenny Miller

        That's more important than a guard of honour.

        If a guard of honour is to be offered to a winning side, it should be done with admiration and respect for what your rivals have achieved.

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