They may have finished behind Derek McInnes’ side over the last couple of seasons, but do Rangers still carry a big mental advantage over Aberdeen?

A titanic tussle takes place at Pittodrie on Sunday as the Premiership kicks off in style for both clubs. Rangers travel to the Granite City under Steven Gerrard in his first domestic game in charge of the club, and the Ibrox side will be looking to put in a strong performance to send out a message to the rest of the league.

Whilst many around the country see this as a match that could go either way, there is a growing perception that Rangers now hold an ace over the Dons psychologically.

Aberdeen managed to beat every side in Scotland last season with the exception of Rangers, and there’s no denying that the men from the Granite City have managed to come up short against the Gers even when they’re at their lowest ebb.

Alfredo Morelos celebrates giving Rangers the lead against Aberdeen last season (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

When Pedro Caixinha was struggling to convince since arriving in March 2017, he managed to take a deflated Rangers side to Pittodrie and win 3-0. Joe Dodoo being on the score-sheet showed how fragile McInnes’ men were that day.

This was followed up by three wins and a draw against Aberdeen last season. Under Graeme Murty, Rangers managed another big 2-1 win at Pittodrie – this time with 10 men.

Whilst the final game of the season between the sides ended in a 1-1 draw in Aberdeen, it was still a game Rangers fans would’ve felt their side should’ve won.

McInnes stuck to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation against everyone last season, so Rangers certainly weren’t getting preferential treatment on that front. However, the former Ibrox star did often play three mainly defensive-minded midfielders to try and turn the game into a battle.

Derek McInnes failed to set up his side positively against Rangers last season (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This went against most of what Aberdeen were all about last season, and McInnes clearly felt that they had to make it a scrap in the midfield in order for Aberdeen to get the better of Rangers.

Looking at how vulnerable Caixinha and Murty’s sides were, this wasn’t the way to go against Rangers last season. With Hibernian and Celtic often playing open, expansive games, Rangers often struggled defensively when there was enough flair players on show.

McInnes clearly didn’t feel comfortable doing this, and as such seemed to create a negative mind-set that seeped into his squad. In contrast, Rangers were always up for the battle against the Dons last season, and it ultimately showed with the nature of some of the wins.

How Aberdeen line-up tomorrow is debatable given the belief they’ll have after an impressive Europa League showing against Burnley.

However, Rangers have had Aberdeen by the throat in their previous meetings mentally, and should be confident about doing the same this Sunday.

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