Soccer

Steve Agnew expects major test from new-look Rangers

Aberdeen defeated Rangers at Ibrox in September (Jane Barlow/PA)
Aberdeen defeated Rangers at Ibrox in September (Jane Barlow/PA) Aberdeen defeated Rangers at Ibrox in September (Jane Barlow/PA)

Steve Agnew admitted Aberdeen are expecting to host a different Rangers side on Sunday to the version they defeated 3-1 at Ibrox almost two months ago.

The Dons pulled off an impressive victory over the Gers on the last day of September, leading to the sacking of the Glasgow club’s boss Michael Beale two days later.

Since then Philippe Clement has taken over and overseen a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions – including six wins – ensuring Rangers head to Pittodrie this weekend with renewed confidence.

“Obviously that was an encouraging performance and result at Ibrox but there have been changes there,” said Dons assistant Agnew on Thursday. “They’ve obviously changed the coach and results have been good since the new coach has come in.

“Rangers will be slightly different because a new coach usually changes the way he wants the team to play. We’re aware of that and we’ve analysed Rangers.

“We know it will be a tough game but we’re all really looking forward to it. We’re quietly confident. There will be a great atmosphere on Sunday and we believe we’re more than capable of getting the result we want.”

Aberdeen and Rangers meet again three weeks later in the Viaplay Cup final, but Agnew is adamant the Hampden showdown on 17 December will not come into the Dons’ thoughts this weekend.

“I think Rangers at Pittodrie, Sunday lunchtime, is as far as we look,” he said. “All our focus is on that. Anything beyond that, we really don’t look at. Sunday is just an exciting fixture that we can’t wait for.”

Sunday’s match is the first of 12 for Aberdeen in just over five weeks before they sign off for a short winter break after their trip to Ross County on 2 January. Agnew is confident the Dons – currently ninth in the league – are equipped to handle the demands of what promises to be a gruelling run.

“It is a big challenge, the number of games coming in such a short period of time,” he said. “We adapt training because of the amount of games and in the summer the club were terrific in terms of the recruitment so we have a squad in place to take us through this hectic period.

“We’re all quietly confident as a group that by the time we come through all this, we’ll be in a healthy place, whether that’s a cup final that goes well or moving up the league.”