Heading into 2022, much has been made about the rearranged Rangers trip to Celtic Park with plenty of fans suggesting the Parkhead side are running scared of their Ibrox rivals.

After all, Rangers are now on a run of eight wins and one draw under Giovanni van Bronckhorst and looked a team gathering momentum heading into the final two fixtures before the winter break.

Celtic v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic – a team quite literally hamstrung together by injuries and barely clinging on to results in the final few matches of the first half of the season – looked a team in imminent decline.

But then along came controversial Covid-19 regulations which will reduce crowd sizes to 500 and resulted in ten of the Scottish Premiership clubs risking fixture congestion to bring the break forward in the name of the fans.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

It’s an interesting take and one we’re not sure would’ve been followed through had the roles been reversed – as a Covid-19 ravaged Rangers pipping Celtic 1-0 at Ibrox earlier in the season suggests – and now we’ve just under three weeks to wait to get our Rangers fix.

That New Year’s Day Old Firm – nowadays more common on the 2nd of January – is also guaranteed to be a sorely missed date on the calendars of football fans.

But whilst Celtic and their supporters will refute that they’re running scared of Rangers, the emphasis on supporters gives a clue to a major psychological hold the Gers have over Celtic.

Celtic haven’t beaten Rangers in over two years and the Gers are six points clear in the Premiership but there is a genuine sentiment at Parkhead that we don’t play well in front of fans.

However, the truth is somewhat the opposite.

Rangers have shown a pragmatism behind closed doors Celtic haven’t

Rangers can play in front of fans, as evidenced by the last time a crowd of 60k saw the side beat Celtic in their own back yard, but the Ibrox club have also shown a pragmatism to make it work behind closed doors.

Celtic – in contrast – appear terrified at the notion their side could be forced to play games in front of anything but a full capacity stadium in the weeks ahead. The attitude is one of trepidation.

To them this is an advantage to Rangers because we’ve proven we can find a level they cannot if fans are forced into a lockout.

Celtic v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

For Rangers the message is clear: we’ll play you anywhere, in front of whatever crowd, and we’ll focus our eyes on the prize.

But amidst the politicking and the posturing, Celtic have proven that Rangers have a psychological hold over them in this regard with Covid-19 now a bogey term for the Parkhead side.

Kicking the ball up the park – the game now set to take place on February 2nd – is also no guarantee that matches will be played in front of 60k.

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