This huge match for the Dons will be a great test to see if they are capable of securing the coveted second spot. The Champions and Champions elect could have their eye off the ball as they look to Tuesday’s match against AC Milan but are still looking to win the league in record time.
Jimmy Calderwood:- ‘We’ve still to get one over them since Gordon Strachan took over at Parkhead although the games between the two of us have been very tight. They are obviously going to retain the league title and they are doing well in the Champions League, which is not only good for Celtic, but also for Scottish football in terms of the coefficient.
‘They have a very strong squad and have a winning mentality. They have young guys coming through who are around winners everyday so it rubs off on them. We are building a strong squad here at the moment so hopefully we will give them a good game. Our last two games against them have been close but we have defended too much and not offered enough in attack. I will be disappointed if we do not attack them more in this game as we go into it full of confidence.
‘Even when they are not playing at the top of their game they are still managing to grind out results and Gordon has done a superb job putting together a strong squad with a substantial amount of young talent which augurs well for the future. From our perspective, matches like this take care of themselves and we’ll most certainly be up for this one with the opportunity again to keep up the pressure on Rangers who are immediately above us in the table.’
Russell Anderson:- When facing Celtic you inevitably start off as underdogs. They’ve got a huge lead at the top of the table, they’re winning week in week out, so we know it’s a big ask to take all three points. But the two games so far this season have been close. We’ve defended very well against them but on the flip side, I don’t think we’ve caused too many problems when we’ve had the ball so we need to address that, especially at home.’
Andrew Considine:- We’ve had some tight matches against Celtic in the last couple of seasons without necessarily getting the results. The last two have been 1-0 affairs so on any day, we can give them a good game and keep it close. I think a lot of teams are a lot more solid now in the top half of the table and if we play at our very best, we do have a chance of taking something from the match. That would be a big lift going into the last few games before the split, it would really give us a chance of cementing a top three finish.’
Aberdeen Team News:
Jimmy Calderwood is able to select from the same unit he has done in recent weeks with no fresh injury worries.
We only have our long term four players out injured at the moment which means we have 19 players to pick from for Saturday. Brewster, Jamie Smith and Diamond should hopefully all be back training with the first team on Monday and if they don’t have any reaction to their injuries they may be in contention for the Falkirk game. Richie may be a possible for the following week.’
Player to watch: Michael Hart
As Aberdeen are likely to be employing a counter attack system as they usually do against Celtic a lot will rely on their fullbacks getting up the park quickly and getting balls into the box. Hart was excellent against Dunfermline last week, defensively and offensively as his perfect cross in the 83rd minute gave Steve Lovell a tap in he didn’t even have to break stride for. Hart will again be called on to produce the same performance as he looks to nulify the onform Aiden McGeady and co and also threaten the visitors defence.
Celtic Team News:
Celtic are expected to rest some major players ahead of Tuesdays European cup tie at home to AC Milan but they have the strength in depth to cope and players desperate to take their place can be very dangerous as they look to stake their own claim for a starting slot.
Many Celtic fans would not complain if Aberdeen were to win this one, thus helping prevent Rangers from second spot, but it’s unlikely former Don Gordon Strachan will see it that way as he looks to win the league in record time and further raise his stock in the eyes of Celtic’s fickel fans.
Player to watch: Shinsuke Nakamura
If he plays then the Dons will have to be on red alert near their goal. Nakamura is deadly from free kicks and anything near the goal is likely to cause Langfield a problem. Strachan has built a side full of speed and attacking talent that can cause any defence problems but even if they are stopped in normal play, often there is nothing that can be done if Nakamura gets behind a dead ball.
Match Facts & Stats
Aberdeen have not beaten Celtic in over five years at Pittodrie alough they have won in Glasgow during that period. The victory at Pittodrie was made famous by the train-conga dance the players peformed at the final whistle in celebration. If you’d like to read a match report from that game