Rodgers plays down Gerrard rivalry ahead of Old Firm derby

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The Celtic boss insists his focus is on the two teams rather than the man opposite, but is impressed with the Liverpool legend's impact at Rangers

Brendan Rodgers has played down the rivalry between himself and Steven Gerrard ahead of Celtic's home game against Rangers on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman is unbeaten in 11 Old Firm derbies, but his side suffered a wobble early on this season when they suffered a shock defeat away to Hearts in their second Premiership match and were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by AEK Athens.

Rangers meanwhile are yet to lose in 11 outings under Gerrard, who played for Rodgers at Liverpool where the pair narrowly missed out on a Premier League title in the 2013-14 season.

Gerrard has since criticised his former manager for being over-confident in pre-match team talks during that critical campaign, but Rodgers is not focusing on any personal issues.

The Hoops boss told Celtic TV : "I am looking forward to seeing Steven.

"He is a good guy, we worked well together at Liverpool. I don't necessarily see it as a dugout battle, I see it as the teams on the field.

"Whatever coach or manager is there at the time, it is irrespective to me. It is about looking at them and how they play and preparing the team in order to win the game.

"That's what I have tried to do in the 11 games against Rangers in my two years here."

Gerrard is the fourth manager to take charge of the Gers in an Old Firm match since Rodgers joined Celtic in 2016. The 45-year-old has previously faced Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty, and will be hoping to continue his dominance in the Gerrard era.

Rodgers added: "That's the focus really. Try to analyse them the best we can.

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"There is no doubt Steven has made a difference to them and made a change to them, a positive change.

"No matter the form, they are always tough games so our notion after Thursday will be to focus on that and be ready for it."

Before the all-Glasgow clash, the Scottish champions will run out against Lithuanian side Suduva and Rangers face FC Ufa of Russia in the Europa League on Thursday night.

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