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Gerrard is eyeing more joy against Dons


Fired up: Steven Gerrard expects a tough duel with Derek McInnes
Fired up: Steven Gerrard expects a tough duel with Derek McInnes

By Gavin McCafferty

Steven Gerrard has told his Rangers players to forget last season's struggles against Aberdeen and use their most recent meeting as the blueprint for today's Ibrox clash.

Rangers won only one of their first six meetings with Aberdeen last season before beating them 2-0 at Ibrox in late April.

But Gerrard feels his team are already a different proposition this season after winning 14 out of 17 matches in all competitions.

"Aberdeen hurt us a lot last year, they knocked us out of both cups and got results against us in the league," he said.

"But that's all in the past. We believe we are better, we believe we have improved, recruited well, and we are in a good place.

"I don't know how many times we are going to play Aberdeen this year but they are all going to be tough games, home or away, and we need to be prepared.

"Our last fixture here against Aberdeen, we played ever so well. We controlled the majority of the game and we found a real performance on the day. That is the game the players need to focus on, because it wasn't so long ago.

"But the players know what they are going to face. They know the challenge, they know the Aberdeen players really well and they know it will be tough. They are a tough nut to crack.

"The respect is certainly there - but if we find our level and play our best, I am confident we can get the result we want."

While accepting that improving their results against Aberdeen could have a major impact on Rangers achieving the progress they want this season, Gerrard has not done any extra research on finding a way to overcome Derek McInnes and his players consistently.

"It could do but I treat all the managers with the same respect," he said. "They all come with different challenges and they are all difficult opponents.

"I don't think I have to look any extra into Aberdeen. I'm not sure I would find anything really. I am well aware of their strengths, how organised they are, how disciplined they are, and their game plan.

"I'm not sure watching extra games or diving into any more information, I'll find anything more out."

That will mean Gerrard will warn his players against any signs of complacency after four consecutive wins.

"We are going into this fixture in a good place and there is confidence and belief but sometimes that can be a dangerous thing, where you go in and just think the momentum is going to just continue," he said.

"Derek McInnes is going to bring his team here, they are going to be well-organised, well-drilled and they are going to raise their game as it's Rangers.

"With the history of this fixture, Rangers players raise it against Aberdeen and vice-versa.

"They are on the back of a real, tough night at Hearts with the extra-time in Wednesday night's Betfred Cup defeat, and I am sure their players and staff didn't want that, and we are on the back of a real physical encounter at Livingston.

"It will be an interesting fixture, but it is one we are really looking forward to.

"But going in with too much confidence and too much belief can be a problem, so the players need to be careful and make sure we try to find our level."

Meanwhile, McInnes has urged his players to show "aggression" while keeping their collective cool.

Last season saw six red cards and five penalties awarded across the league games between the two sides.

"These games are a real test for us," he said.

"It's important to try to play with the right aggression but also the right temperament.

"We were disappointed with one or two of the red cards in those games last season. It's a fixture that generates a competitive element in the game but it's important we stay calm with our work as well."



Scottish Premiership

Ibrox, Today, 3.00pm

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