Second-placed Aberdeen need a result against fifth-placed St. Johnstone if they are to maintain any pressure on SPL leaders Celtic.
The Celts have pulled six points clear in recent weeks and with a Friday night trip to Glasgow rivals Partick Thistle for the defending Champions, the Dons could be looking at having to try and close a nine point deficit come match day.
The sides played out a seven-goal thriller at McDiarmid Park earlier in the month with Aberdeen running out 4-3 winners in that one.
Top scorer Adam Rooney netted twice in that victory, with Peter Pawlett and Niall McGinn adding the others. David Wotherspoon had pulled one back when Aberdeen were two-up and a late rally from Saints saw Steven Anderson and Tam Scobbie also hit the target.
The Dons hopes of taking the title were dealt a hammer blow last time out as they were beaten 3-1 up at Inverness Caledonian Thistle to put an end to their twelve match unbeaten run that had Celtic sweating somewhat.
Boss Derek McInnes will be looking at this fixture as a real chance to get back on track – and a chance to avenge the 5-1 drubbing that Saints handed the Dons at Pittodrie back in October.
So if the form book is anything to go by, you can expect goals in this game - plenty of them. It’s getting down towards the business end of the season now and teams will be looking to go all-out for the wins.
That could open up chances at either end of the pitch and Saints, who put the skids on a woeful run of recent form with Scobbie’s late header giving them a 2-1 success against Motherwell – their first three points since a 3-2 win at Ross County on December 5th.
Louis Moult was also on the scoresheet for Tommy Wright’s side in that game, which was something of a tense affair with little to choose between the sides.
Saints have conceded a bumper 41 times and Aberdeen will want to exploit any defensive weakness by getting at the Saints back line and putting pressure on the ball in the visitors half. If they can dominate the midfield area and play balls in behind the Perth team’s defenders, getting them turned back towards their own goal, then they can create the chances that you would expect 19-goal hit-man Rooney to gobble up.
The bottom line is that the Dons simply can’t afford any slip-ups in this fixture and they will be going all-out, guns blazing for the three points that can at least keep them in touch with Celtic.
With an eleven-point gap back to third-placed Hearts, the SPL championship is a two-horse race now and the Dons do not want to falter as they approach the final run in.
It’s all now down to how the Aberdeen team react to the defeat that dented their chances and if they can put another fantastic run together. Expect them to be hungry for the victory.
Aberdeen Recent Form DWWWWL
St. Johnstone Recent Form LDLLLW
06/02/2016 St Johnstone 3 Aberdeen 4
03/10/2015 Aberdeen 1 St Johnstone 5
24/05/2015 Aberdeen 0 St Johnstone 1
23/01/2015 St Johnstone 1 Aberdeen 1
01/01/2015 Aberdeen 2 St Johnstone 0
Aberdeen (4-4-1-1) –Brown, Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Pawlett, Flood, G Shinnie, , McLean, Rooney, Church.
St. Johnstone (4-1-3-2) –Mannus, Fisher, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Scobbie, Millar, Davidson, Craig, Wotherspoon, Thomson, MacLean.
Aberdeen: Hayes (inj).
St. Johnstone: MacKay (inj), Easton (inj).