Rodgers: No room for Celtic complacency in quest for league and cup

Celtic play Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final before returning to league action where they have a three-point lead.

Brendan Rodgers says Celtic have no room for complacency as they look to keep their momentum going and continue in their quest for a league and cup double.

The Hoops take on Aberdeen this weekend with a place in the Scottish Cup final on the line and currently sit three points ahead of Rangers at the top of the Premiership with five games remaining.

But the manager says Rangers recent drop in form, with only one win in their last five league games, is irrelevant to them as they look to maintain their advantage at the summit.

Rodgers has never lost a game at Hampden with nine wins from nine previous visits, including two Scottish Cup wins, and says it is a stadium, and tournament, that he hold fond memories of.

Speaking on Friday ahead of their trip to the national stadium on Saturday, he said: “The Scottish Cup is a competition that is very rich in its history, of course, and especially for a club like Celtic who have won it 42 times and the memories created over the years in this competition are iconic for the club.

“Everyone is on the same page, we have players back available and the speed and quality in our training has been absolutely superb and it is at this time of the season that this club comes alive with the anticipation and opportunity to win trophies.

“I have loved all my games at Hampden, the semi-finals, the finals, there’s that extra edge to get your hands on a trophy.

“I’ve got so many memories of the Scottish Cup from when I was growing up, and I know what it means to the club, so it’s good to have opportunity to add to that and to add to the trophy haul for the club.”

After the game against Aberdeen it will be a return to league action and march towards a potential third title in a row for the club.

After some shaky periods during the campaign, particularly between December and February when they briefly dropped behind their city rivals, they have now regained some form and managed to put some daylight between them and the challengers again.

But despite Rangers dropping five points in their last two games to hand the advantage back to Celtic, Rodgers admits that his side will need to continue to keep improving and focus on their own performances in the coming weeks to make sure they retain the trophy.

He said: “We don’t play again in the league for another week or so, so it’s not my focus, but I’ve always said it’s not how you start the marathon, it’s how you finish it and for us we are improving day by day and looking good on the filed with still lots of improvements to make with performances on the main being good.

“But still, a long way to go in the league with five games and 15 points still to play for, but our focus at the minute is very much on getting to the final.

“Dealing with pressure at this stage of the season is everything, self control is what you need in this environment of high stakes and high pressure.

“We haven’t won anything yet, we are in a semi-final, which is great, we are improving and getting better and our performance levels have shown that, I demand more from the team and we will push right until the very last whistle of the season.

“You won’t play 38 league games and all the cup games at the very highest level, you’ve got to have those dips and those waves, but the strength is in how you shift those moments when it maybe isn’t going quite as well as you’d like.

“But the players have been absolutely brilliant, they’ve had to dig in at lots of moments this season to get results, but we have just chipped away, stayed focus on our own game.”

“Our focus has always been on ourselves, and I have made that point to the players, that irrespective of other results or the way it goes for other teams, we can only do our work.

“We can’t soften up, just because another team might have drawn or lost or whatever, that is irrelevant. We still have to perform and get the results, because if we come off it against teams that are motivated and organised then you can give you a problem.

“So for us, we have to continually focus on our own performance irrespective of what happens elsewhere because we have to create our own story and to do that we have to work at it and that will hopefully be the storyline come the end of the season.”

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