Date: 22nd December 2006 at 10:06am
Written by:

On Sky

Its being billed as the most important match between Aberdeen and Rangers since the Ibrox league decider in 1991.

It’s 2nd v 3rd in the race for the Champions League place.

Vital Quotes:

Jimmy Calderwood:- ‘ This Saturday’s game is massive but there is a long way to go before the European places are sorted out. We welcome a Rangers side just two points behind us in the table and while these matches are always big ones, the respective league standings mean this one takes on even greater significance. I thought we were unlucky at Ibrox earlier in the year. I think Rangers will have a lot more confidence than they did a few weeks ago as they have been playing well recently but they know they have a tough game ahead of them.

‘I think that all the pressure is on them so we just have to go out there and enjoy ourselves. I want the players to give themselves a chance of winning the game by being relaxed and confident.’

Jamie Smith:- ‘Rangers have started to play better in recent weeks, and you know that when you play them, it’s never going to be easy. But we have to concentrate on us, keep playing the way we have been and keep our run of form going. Christmas is always a testing time in the season, so many games in such a short space of time, with so many points up for grabs. It’s mentally demanding as well, you don’t have time to recover, you mind or your body, but being positive, if we come through this period with some points, we’ll have done a lot of damage to those around us. That has to be the aim.’

Russell Anderson:- ‘We ran Rangers very close at Ibrox earlier this season and could have nicked it. Unfortunately they grabbed a late goal, which shows that if you give Rangers one chance they can punish you and win the game. Losing at Ibrox was disappointing so hopefully we can rectify that at Pittodrie on Saturday.’

Scott Booth:- ‘Aberdeen have conceded just one goal in the first half all season and that was against Hibs on the opening day of the season.

They build on that because they don’t give away a lot and have the pace of Darren Mackie and Steven Lovell who have got them goals this season. Jimmy uses his players well.

They have real grit about them and in Russell Anderson they have a guy who has been simply phenomenal. But they have looked more like a team who can grind out results, something they did at Tynecastle last week.

They don’t score a lot of goals but they don’t concede too many. That’s half the battle. Anderson has been great at the back and no matter who plays alongside him, they have always looked solid.’

David Robertson:- ‘League games between the two clubs haven’t been quite so close or carried as much importance since then (the league decider in 1991), but this weekend’s match will be just like the old days and I’d say it is the biggest game between them in the league since the title decider.’

Brahim Hemdani:- ‘We have done well over the last few weeks and the most important thing now is to carry on and take points, because with Aberdeen it will be a fight to the end.’

Aberdeen Team News:

Calderwood has again almost a full squad to choose from as only longterm crock Richie Byrne is still unavailable. Calderwood has resisted the temptation to blood new boy Craig Brewster by not registering him in time for this match as an amateur so the first game he will be available for selection will be Hibs on January 2nd.

Calderwood has said of his new 40 year old striker, ‘Craig looked great in training this morning as expected. He is the ultimate professional and will bring many qualities to AFC. All the younger players will benefit from having him around as he is great at communicating and coaching young players.’

Player to watch: Russell Anderson

The captain could hold the key to this match. Obviously his defensive and leadership qualities will be crucial in trying to keep Rangers out but he also provides a serious goal threat at the other end. Unlucky not to score against Hearts last week and with reported interest from Rangers about a possible transfer in the new year, Russell will have many eyes on him for several reasons.

Rangers Team News:

RANGERS defender Julien Rodriguez has admitted he would be keen on a January move to Marseille.

The French side are keen to bring the 28-year-old £1million signing from Monaco back to his homeland.

They have contacted me a number of times but some reasons made a transfer impossible.

People tell me Marseille are looking for a defender so my door is open to them.’

Player to watch: Barry Ferguson

The Scotland captain has been playing well recently and is the drive behind Rangers recent revival. He knows the importance of these matches and will try to be the most significant player in blue as he spurs his team on.

Match Facts & Stats

Aberdeen are the form team in the Bank of Scotland Premierleague at the moment- and that’s official!

Over the last six matches, Jimmy Calderwood’s side have gathered 15 points out of a possible 18, more than leaders Celtic and Saturday’s opponents Rangers.

Ref Watch:

Douglas McDonald will be the man in charge of this powderkeg clash.

Next Fixtures:

Aberdeen V Kilmarnock 26th December. 3pm Kick Off.