The footballing careers of Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers have been mysteriously entangled in recent years.
Of course, Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea in 2013/14 characterised a capitulation which saw the Premier League title slip away from Rodgers’ Liverpool.
Top-flight success in England remains elusive for both men, but it’s fair to say they’ve both done pretty well in Scotland since then.
Having arrived on the green and white side of Glasgow in 2016, Rodgers inspired unparalleled dominance and success, even by Celtic’s standards.
His side became known as the ‘Invincibles’, going undefeated in an astonishing 47 domestic matches and winning a domestic treble in Rodgers’ first season in charge.
Rodgers did taste defeat in the 2017/18 campaign, but that didn’t stop him successfully defending all three trophies to complete a ‘double treble’.
Gerrard’s arrival at Rangers in 2018 did little to halt the success of his former boss – but the reunion was short-lived.
Rodgers refused the chance to complete an unprecedented ‘treble treble’ by leaving rather abruptly for Leicester in February 2019, although the Hoops did it anyway under Neil Lennon.
Even still, that’s when the momentum started to shift towards the blue side of Glasgow.
Although Celtic still had the edge and ended up winning the title for a ninth consecutive season in 2019/20, awarded by default when the campaign was cancelled due to COVID-19, the gap in quality between the two sides was finally narrowing.
Now, Rangers are 15 points clear of Celtic, with a game in hand and the chance to wrap up their first title in a decade this month.
The Gers have all-but prevented Celtic from becoming the first team in Scotland to win ten-in-a-row, just like they did in 1974/75, before the Hoops did it back to them in 1997/98.
But not only that, Rangers have taken all the pain inflicted on them by Rodgers over those two dominant years and thrown it straight back at their Glaswegian rivals, who parted company with Lennon last week amid the embarrassment.
In fact, there is even a case to suggest Gerrard’s current side, who are also unbeaten in the league this season, are up there with the 2016/17 Celtic champions.
Let’s take a look…
Celtic 2016/17 (Scottish Premiership)
Goals for: 106
Goals against: 25
Goals per game: 2.79
Points per game: 2.79
Goals conceded per game: 0.66
Rangers 2020/21 (Scottish Premiership so far)
Goals for: 73
Goals against: 9
Goals per game: 2.43
Points per game: 2.73
Goals conceded per game: 0.3
As you can see, there is little to separate the two sides by way of points and goals scored, and while the Celtic side of 2016/17 have the edge, Rangers still have eight games left to add to their tally.
Meanwhile, Gerrard’s men are significantly better in defence, conceding just nine times in the Scottish Premiership this season at an astonishing average of 0.3 goals against per game.
Celtic will argue that their domestic treble trumps what looks set to be a top-flight triumph on its own, as Rangers were dumped out of the Scottish League Cup by St Mirren earlier this season and it remains to be seen whether the Scottish Cup will be scrapped.
However, Rangers can say their European exploits this term have surpassed anything Celtic achieved under Rodgers.
The Gers have progressed to the last-16 of the Europa League and entertain serious hopes of glory, while Celtic finished bottom of their Champions League group in 2016/17.
It’s also worth noting Celtic were dumped out in the Europa League’s round of 32 in each of the last three campaigns, with Europe operating as a useful barometer for a Scottish side outside the questionable quality of their domestic league.
One thing we can say with relative certainty is that in the Scottish Premiership, Gerrard has matched Rodgers.
And given their intertwined careers up to this point, perhaps we will see them go toe-to-toe for a Premier League title one day.