Celtic – Aberdeen | The Preview

Following two testing nights in the capital, Celtic face a tough match at home to consolidate their stranglehold on the top of the table.

‘Unrelenting’ (adjective) – not yielding in strength severity or determination.

Since the calendar turned over to a new year, we have seen a Celtic side that have been unrelenting in their continued domination of the domestic scene. Having swept aside lesser teams and dominating St. Johnstone, the team really proved their mental toughness and integrity by stamping their authority on Gorgie and Leith. In the latter part of Rodger’s time at Celtic, the two Edinburgh sides were certainly the bogey-teams for the men in green and white. The cherry on top of two professional, team performances was Scott Brown putting a ball in the back of the Hibs net with so much power the pure testosterone gave him an instant erection.

However, make no mistake, it could currently be a very different situation we find ourselves in. Sport in general owes so much to the finest of margins, so even a seemingly insignificant change is the difference between victory and defeat. That’s what makes Celtic’s current form so impressive. A team can be so easily destabilised by losing a manager in mid-season, but through key players such as Scott Brown and Kieran Tierney, as well as Manager and Assistant Manager Neil Lennon and John Kennedy, normal service hasn’t been disrupted for even one moment. Every time a goal is scored, the whole team comes together to celebrate, and the passion from some players, including loanees, is simply magical. Das ist fußbal.

Aberdeen on the other hand find themselves in a distinctly different situation. After a slow first half of the season remain on 50 points, 16 points adrift from the league leaders and trailing Rangers by 8. Their season so far is best described as inconsistent, having lost 5 games at Pittodrie while only winning 7, and conceding 21 at home while scoring 27 in the league campaign.

For both sides, this is an important fixture, as the unstoppable(ish) force that is Aberdeen away from home meets the immovable object of Celtic at Paradise.

Stats & Facts

  • Aberdeen’s 1-0 win over Celtic at the end of last season was the end of an 8-game win streak over the Dons for Celtic in all cup and league matches.
  • Celtic have scored 613 in 349 meetings, compared to Aberdeen’s 381, a ratio of 1.6:1
  • Their 4-3 win over Aberdeen was the first time first time in their history that Celtic have won in the north east consecutively five times.
  • Neil Lennon lost to Aberdeen 4 times in his spell as Hibs manager, winning once and drawing once too.

Last Five Meetings

Dec ’18Aberdeen – Celtic 3-4Premiership
Dec’ 18Celtic – Aberdeen 1-0League Cup
Sep ’18Celtic – Aberdeen 1-0Premiership
May ’18Celtic – Aberdeen 0-1Premiership
Feb’ 18Aberdeen – Celtic 0-2Premiership

Line-ups

There are few things that manage to unify most of the Celtic support, but much like buses, you wait for one and two come along at once. The first and most obvious one following the last few weeks is that – in the words of one Malcolm Tucker – we wouldn’t piss on Brendan Rodgers if he was allergic to piss. The second is perhaps more nuanced and is that Scott Bain is surely our best goalkeeper now.

Having started every single game since the turn of the year, he has conceded only 5 times. For a while there has been a belief that Craig Gordon’s ‘match winning saves’ were enough of a reason to keep him in the side, despite him being poorer with the ball at his feet. But in the last few games, Bain has dispelled this myth by making saves at the Mestalla that kept the score respectable, as well as providing an improved service for his defensive line in terms of distribution. The only criticism that can be levelled at Bain that sometimes his decision-making is poor, as shown at McDiarmid Park in the league cup where he came off his line to punch the ball away and missed it, and his poor pass for Ajer against Hearts that lead to a penalty.

The reintroduction of Tierney at fullback has revitalised the left-hand side of defence – although credit to Johnny Hayes for his strong performances when he was required.

An interesting question to be answered this weekend is that of the midfield. With a lot of injuries in the middle three, Nir ‘Pattermerchant’ Bitton and Euan Henderson are both options in the centre of the park. Oliver Burke looked good in the hole behind Eddy at Easter Road and created chances with powerful runs into space.

Time to discuss the Big Dezza McInnes’ side. The visitor’s mixed fortunes over the past few weeks has also come with a mix of formations. In their 4-2 loss at home against Rangers they set up with 3 at the back in a 3-4-2-1. A three-man defence has clearly been deemed too risky since, as it became too easy for former Don Ryan Jack to put good balls at the feet of Alfredo Morelos. prove for and since then they have played at home mostly with a 4-2-3-1 and on the road with two banks of 4 in a 4-4-1-1.

They have an easy choice up top in former Carlisle United striker Sam Cosgrove, who has put away 14 league goals already this season, the 2nd highest in the league. He has a goal every 114 minutes played in the SPFL, second only to our very own French Eddy, on 103 minutes per goal with 12 league goals.

Another one to watch will be Aberdeen centre-half Scott Mckenna. The £7m rated defender, ever the talk on twitter as a transfer target for the Hoops, managed go 90 minutes without being sent off in his ongoing battle with Morelos during Aberdeen’s 1-1 draw with Rangers on Sunday.

Key Battles

Photo: Jane Barlow – Getty Images
  • Jeremy Toljan vs The Temptation to Drag Down Anyone Who Gets Past Him: the Jezzmeister General has perhaps not impressed as much as people had thought he might since he came in on loan from Borussia Dortmund at the end of the transfer window. His attacking play has been solid, but he has a tendency to pull down to the ground any attacker who beats him, as demonstrated at the Mestalla.
  • Sam Cosgrove vs Boyata & Ajer: Aberdeen’s clinical finisher is yet to score at Parkhead and will find in his way the barrier that is Dedryck Boyata and the beautiful, sculpted Nordic wall that is Kristoffer Vassback Ajer. Both certainly have a mistake in them, and we shall have to see how they deal with the 2nd– top scorer.

Prediction

Celtic 2, Aberdeen 0

The original match poster is by Frankie Mitchell (@madebyfrankie). You can buy a print of this and all of Frankie’s other illustrations and drawings from her online shop  – her work is also available on t-shirts, stickers and many other products.


Born and bred in Dunblane (No, he actually has never met Andy Murray. No, he doesn't like tennis very much) and now a student at Edinburgh uni, Alex was brought into the Celtic fold by his good friend Rory. His life aspiration is that Ryan Christie will accept his friend request on Facebook.


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