Third-placed Aberdeen are looking to get their season back on track with the visit of basement side Dundee United to Pittodrie.
Because if ever a side needed a win, it’s the Dons who have got stuck in a rut of defeats, conceded top spot and perhaps the niggling little doubts are just starting to creep into the dressing rooms.
It’s easy to be on top of the world when you get off to a great start like the Reds did this term. But the real test is when results aren’t going your way on the pitch. Aberdeen haven’t won since beating Hearts 3-1 back in late September and they’ve only picked up a point from their last four SPL games – that’s relegation form.
So while boss Derek McInnes won’t be pushing the panic button just yet, he’ll be desperate to take three points from Saturday’s game. While maybe a few weeks ago he’d have looked at this one as an easy win, United have been boosted by the Mixu Paatelainen factor with the new boss coming in and giving the Terrors’ players a real kick up the backside.
Paatelainen is already looking to strengthen his squad by signing Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who watched the basement side’s confidence-boosting 1-0 win over Ross County last Saturday from the stand. That sends out a signal to everyone in the team that they are under scrutiny and if the board back him up with the cash to bring in players, Paatelainen could take United up to mid-table safety.
That victory over Ross County was only United’s second of the campaign but they’ll be hoping for plenty more now that the big Finn is in charge. He reckoned the side were underdogs going into their mid-week League Cup quarter-final tie at promotion-chasing Championship side Hibs and was proved right as they disappointingly crashed out 3-0.
United’s central defensive pairing Ryan McGowan and Mark Durnan are both just yellow one card away from picking up a ban and would prove a big miss from the heart of the defence.
McInnes may consider pairing top-scorer Adam Rooney with David Goodwillie up top if he fancies going for the jugular and playing a more attacking formation than the one up front that the Dons have favoured this term. Hell, something needs to change and the only way you win football matches is by sticking the ball in the back of the net more times than your opponents. It’s as simple as that.
The bookies are confident that the Dons will put the skids on United’s hopes of a revival and I’ve got a real inkling to follow their opinion. Aberdeen can’t afford to lose this one if they want to maintain their interest at the top.
Aberdeen Stats W8 D1 L4
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Dundee United Stats W2 D2 L9
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02/08/2015 Dundee United 0 Aberdeen 1
02/05/2015 Dundee United 1 Aberdeen 0
18/04/2015 Aberdeen 1 Dundee United 0
31/01/2015 Dundee United 2 Aberdeen 1
13/12/2014 Dundee United 0 Aberdeen 2
Aberdeen (4-2-3-1) –Ward, Logan, Reynolds, Taylor, Considine, Hays, Jack, McLean, Shinnie, McGinn, Rooney.
Dundee United (4-5-1) – Szromnik, Souttar, R McGowan, Durnan, Dillon, Spittal, Kuhl, Fraser, Rankin, Taggart, McKay.
Dundee United: Bilate (inj), Connolly (susp), Dow (inj), Erskine (inj), Paton (inj), Morris (inj).