Unless we can pick up at least a point from Parkhead tomorrow I think we can kiss European football next season goodbye.
At this stage last season we were sitting in 3rd, three points ahead of Hearts but only 5 points away from Rangers in 2nd place. At points in the season we were talking about catching up with Celtic while drifting further ahead of Rangers, never mind worrying about qualifying for the UEFA Cup. But this season has been much much different. In the league we have just been terrible (actual word was ‘pish’ but fanzine licence applied).
But forget last season, now Jimmy has the mammoth task of turning around our season. Some say finishing 3rd still wouldn’t make up for the humiliation that was Queen of the South but to me it would be an absolutely remarkable achievement given where we are at this moment in time.
But of course, first, we must focus on picking up at least a draw, or by next week it may be mathematically impossible to finish 3rd.
Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood told the Evening Express, ‘People will be predicting we are going lose five or six nil, although I doubt if Gordon Strachan will do that.’ He went onto say that Celtic will be fired up after their mid-week win over rivals Rangers but Aberdeen will be just as fired up as they look to restore some pride after last week’s humiliating Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Queen of the South.
In his press conference Gordon Strachan was only wary that Celtic cannot let Aberdeen have a chance, ‘If they get a chance, they can take it – that’s for sure. So we have to be careful about giving them chances. Their semi-final was a pity last week, because it was an epic game that someone had to lose. I watched the highlights and it was exciting.’
Celtic Team News:
Bobo Balde will play his first match this year, replacing Gary Caldwell who was suspended after his clash with David Weir after the Old Firm match mid-week.
Lee Naylor, Paul Hartley, Aiden McGeady and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink are all carrying knocks.
Scott Brown misses out once again through suspension.
Player to watch: Aiden McGeady
If fit it will be interesting to see how the young man gets on. Alan Maybury had him in his pocket in the Scottish Cup encounters but with confidence low at Pittodrie and high at Parkhead, who knows what may happen?
Aberdeen Team News:
Jamie Langfield replaces the leaving Derek Soutar in goal after two howlers in consecutive weeks.
Dutchman Karim Touzani picked up an injury in a reserve game and is forced to sit out.
Physio room residents Richie Byrne and Jamie Smith will of course not be available as per always.
Lee Mair also seems to have picked up a knock but Darren Mackie and Derek Young might be fit.
Player to watch: Sone Aluko
On loan Birmingham player Sone Aluko toyed with Celtic’s defence in the Scottish Cup last month. If they give him too much space again you never know what might happen.
Match Facts & Stats
Jimmy Calderwood’s first encounter with Celtic at Parkhead was a win for the Dons. Darren Mackie and Fernando Pasquinelli put the Dons two up in the first 5 minutes. Celtic pulled it level with one just before half time and one in the 2nd half but John Stewart sent the away support into delirium with a goal in the 3rd minute of injury time.
Calderwood’s record with Aberdeen at Parkhead is won 2, drawn 0, lost 7. Keep that in mind when you visit Ladbrokes.
The match official is Iain Brines. This season in a game between Rangers and Motherwell at Fir Park, Brines was slated by both managers for numerous poor decisions including turning down numerous penalty appeals, so don’t expect any on Saturday!
I don’t like to jinx things so I’ll just say a performance that makes everyone say ‘why didn’t we play like that against QOS?’.
Aberdeen v Hibernian – Saturday, 26 April, 3:00PM
Celtic v Rangers – Sunday, 27 April, 12:30PM