Scottish Premiership Preview: Aberdeen vs. Celtic – Dons revival set to continue?
Saturday 17/08/2013 12:30 KO
Aberdeen have gone through something of a revival since the arrival of Derek McInnes as manager. A fresh wave of excitement and confidence has been instilled in the club over the summer with money being spent, not only on player recruitment, but also on improving Pittodrie.
The club’s board seem to be doing everything they can in order to establish Aberdeen as the second club in Scottish football. The Aberdeen fans have waited a long time for success but with the players they currently have at the club, there is no reason why the reds can’t push Celtic in the league, while also attempting a lengthy cup run. Derek McInnes has brought nine new players to the club while also moving on some of the dead wood from his inherited squad. The likes of Gregg Wylde, Willo Flood and Calvin Zola have added some pace and quality to the Aberdeen side, while the additions of experienced Barry Robson and Nicky Weaver will only help the younger members of the squad.
Celtic will travel to Pittodrie this Saturday knowing they are in for a difficult test. Players such as Hayes, Pawlett, McGinn and Flood can and will cause Celtic problems, especially if the Parkhead club have one eye on an arduous trip to Kazakhstan. Former Celt Niall McGinn has been a revelation since his arrival at Aberdeen. The young Irishman has performed exceptional well since his departure from Celtic, but im sure for Neil Lennon its a case of ‘Better the Devil you Know’.
Aberdeen currently sit joint top of the Scottish Premiership with 6 points from two matches, and if they can grab all three points against Neil Lennon’s side on Saturday they would gain a 6 point advantage over the Champions; that would be a statement of intent for the remaining Premiership teams. Aberdeen will be full of confidence with a sell out crowd expected at Pittodrie, this could be the perfect time for them to display the attractive, positive football which McInnes has been eager to instill in his side.
The Dons will be without Barry Robson after he has undergone knee surgery. Andrew Considine and Chris Clark also remain absent from Derek McInnes’ squad, however Russell Anderson could make his comeback after recovering from a hip injury sustained last week away to Motherwell.
Celtic will travel to Kazakhstan straight after the match on Saturday to prepare for their Champions League playoff tie on Tuesday. The Parkhead club are focused on making the group stages of European football’s Premier competition for the second consecutive season, however the away trip up north to Aberdeen will present them with a stern test domestically. Neil Lennon’s side could have won last seasons title with more conviction yet they struggled to motivate themselves after glamour European ties. This season Lennon has made clear that he is looking for his squad to achieve a higher level of consistency in the domestic competitions.
This Aberdeen side could prove to be the best of the rest in terms of the Scottish Premiership, so Celtic will be keen to stamp their authority on the home side. The opening game of the season saw Celtic host Ross County in what was a frustrating day in front of goal for the home team. The loss of Gary Hooper has yet to be supplemented with a new signing however a much improved performance by Amido Balde against Liverpool last week will give Lennon encouragement that there are goals in his side. Anthony stokes is a player keen to prove his worth and fill the void left by Hooper and this weekend could present him with another chance to impress, despite making headlines off the field.
Celtic could be without a number of players due to the International games mid-week. There are doubts over the fitness of Balde, Stokes, Forrest, Brown, Rogic, Lustig, and Ambrose, which will no doubt play on Neil Lennon’s mind ahead of kick off. One player who should feature will be central defender Mouyokolo after he impressed in pre season especially against Liverpool in Dublin. Other new signings Derk Boerrigter and Virgil Van Dijk will miss the weekends game but could return in time for Tuesday’s Champions League fixture.
Aberdeen will be well up for this match especially with a full crowd behind them. The Dons have plenty of players who can hurt Celtic, and the Champions will need to forget about mid-week adventures to focus totally on the task in hand at Pittodrie. Changes will need to be made to the Celtic team after International games this week, but the Parkhead club should have enough in reserve to match Aberdeen. I expect a very open entertaining game with both sides taking a share of the points.
Aberdeen 2-2 Celtic