Lets get ready to rumble!
In the red corner, its the old ansaphone loving singalonga slugger, Craigy Broon and his young band of Northern warriors. In the Green corner, its the Conquerer of Catalonia, Lenny the Thunderer and his band of Worldly wonders. Who needs Twilight movie stand-offs when we have this sort of epic battle on our hands?
Its 2nd versus 3rd in the Amrmaggedon ridden SPL. If the Dons win they leapfrog Celtic into 2nd and if The Timaloys win then they could close up on high flying Hibs. However did it get so depressingly dull? Oh for the old days when a team was 15 points ahead and needed an East Kilbride Honey-Pot monster to come along and destroy their hopes. BTW…has anyone actually seen Neil Doncaster and Charles Green in the same room these days?
Anyhows…here we are. Pittodrie on a fresh Saturday morning in November. Doesnt get any more Scottish than this even if you stuck a Tax Demand and an SFL call for change on it. Relationships between Aberdeen and Celtic have been somewhat warm in recent years but come kick-off, its every man for himself as hatred of The Club formerly Living as Rangers is put aside and everyone bays for 3 points.
For the Dons, Auld Granpaw Broon has been playing fine mind-games in press interviews and stating how Niall McGinn has nothing to prove when playing against his former team and the team of his heart. Celtic fans wish Niall nothing but the best except for in games against us and lets hope his truly brilliant form takes a slight nosedive for this encounter. Stop McGinn and we should Stop Aberdeen.
The Dons will also miss Stephen Hughes, Ryan Jack and Gary Naysmith while Rob Milsom is facing another knee operation. SPL veteran Gavin Rae is also struggling but a danger could be present in winger Ryan Fraser who is expected to shake off a minor injury.
On paper Celtic should have a clear advantage but the Question is can this Celtic side be relied upon. The bodies and boots may be there but there is no certainty the concentration and the heart will be present. Benfica awaits next week and all the pressure is on that game alone. While our League form has been patchy, its all about the CL this season and most fans can accept that, at least for now. Celtic could get the European pressures out the way for 2012 with a result in Benfica and its only natural that the players and managements minds will be elsewhere, regardless of the token “One game at a time” soundbites that will be uttered.
Its likely to be a very tough game with no quarter given. Hopefully all of the Hoops can come out it unscathed which is the most important thing here rather than the full 3 points. While Lenny may be hopeful of a win, chances are he is thinking “Get this game out the way and onto Lisbon where it really counts right NOW!”. The League can be the focus right after Lisbon, if everyone does their jobs in Portugal of course and our friends at Barca see off Spartak. A few folk are moaning about the league form but we still have a game in hand and theres no need to panic ( R.I.P Clive Dunn).
Big Fraser should start at Pittodrie after his trip to Sweden during the week and in front he should see Ambrose and Kelvin Timber. Mikel Lustig appeared for Sweden in the Zlatan Show midweek and he may return with Adam Matthews although Charlie Mulgrew may find a space at left back to provide some height coverage. The midfield should see some changes with reports of big Vic missing out to ensure he appears in Lisbon and James Forrest continues to struggle.
Could Paddy McCourt get a start? Sadly his contributions so far have been fleeting and he will be hoping to make some impression. Could Dylan “Jaws” McGeough get a game? Its been a while since that Real Madrid smash-mouth game but this might be too bruising a contest to throw the youngster into. Given the tough opposition, we can probably expect to see a combination from Commons, Ledley, Broony, Mulgrew and Kayal with Samaras and Miku supplementing as the game appears too soon for a return of Gary Hooper. Tony Watt may be injured after hurting his fingers as he signed a new deal this week but he may also be being kept for later stages at both Pittodrie and especially in Lisbon.
Aberdeen will be hoping to catch Celtic in two minds and its up to Lenny and his crew to ensure the focus is there. This might be a little easier said than done in these heady Champions league days. If Celtic can withstand the aggressive start then they could pull away from the Determined Dons but they will all know that every minute passing is a minute closer to that game in Portugal. I smell a draw.
Aberdeen 2:2 Celtic ( Ledley, Mulgrew)
PS Thanks to Aberdeen fans Forum :
For this picture of Auld Granpaw Broon doing what he does best!