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SP 16 | Aberdeen v Rangers Preview
The Manager spoke to the media on Monday, ahead of the Dons Ladbrokes Premiership game against Rangers on Wednesday night at Pittodrie:
“December has always been an important month because of the volume of fixtures and it’s always been a month we’ve done particularly well in.
“I think that’s because we’ve always had a good focus and a good strength in the squad. Hopefully we can get Ojo and Bryson back in the next couple of weeks but both are unavailable for this game on Wednesday.
“Any win against the Old Firm can give you more than three points in terms of that feel good factor about the place. But it’s the same three points that were available against St Mirren and it’s the same three points available against Hibs. And we’ve been good recently at picking up three points here and there but hopefully we can pick up another three on Wednesday.”
Sam & Joe
“We are fortunate that we’ve got both in good form at the minute.
“We’ve got some good payers to play within that but we know if Joe’s going to busy, we’ve got a keeper there who’s more than capable of making saves. We know if we can get the ball into the final third, we’ve got a striker there who can cause any team problems with the form he is in at the minute.
“So it’s making sure that in those bits in between the two boxes we are competitive, we pass the ball well at the right times and we move the ball quickly. That we are confident in our possession but that we are assured with our out of possession work.
“That will be the real test against this Rangers team because when the game gets stretched, they can – as we’ve seen ourselves – put teams to the sword.
“We know we’ve got players that are capable of dealing with the game.”
“Niall McGinn’s a doubt for Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, he has picked a little calf strain. We got him off on Saturday. I thought he was very good on Saturday not only scoring the winning goal, but he’s got to be a doubt for Wednesday although we haven’t ruled him out yet.
“Having Bryson and Ojo would be perfect for me but we don’t have that and we haven’t had that for a while.
“Certainly last time out against Rangers it was unprecedented having eight players unavailable that would have been stripped. I think that when you are playing the top teams you would like your best team available and your best squad available.
“So we are in a far better place than we were for the last game.
“We are on a good run – one defeat in seven and that was to Celtic. The two games that people talk about the most have been the two Old Firm games. So despite everything else, despite some good performances and some wins and the points tally that I’ve just spoken about (five points better off than this time last season), we are well aware that those two games are the ones that we are getting beaten up about and rightly so”.
“Any manager coming up against Celtic or Rangers at the minute is trying to come up with a way of playing that gives you the right opportunity, and the best chance of making sure the balance between attacking and defending is right.
“We are well aware of their threat. Rangers at the minute are playing with a lot of confidence and scoring a lot of goals, they are really potent at the top end of the pitch.
“So I think if you give them those opportunities they can stick it to you. So you’ve got to make sure that you are fully concentrated and that we are aggressive with our work. We’ve got to defend properly but there’s got to be a real belief that we can go and get result. We’ve got to feel that over the 90 minutes we’ve got good enough players, a good enough team and a good enough performance in us to get a positive result.
“Rangers have got the luxury of spending millions of pounds putting their squad together. I think we spent £125k in the summer on Ojo and he’s not available. I think there’s no shame in saying they have a bigger squad and a better squad and a better team.
“The league table and where they are in Europe suggests that. But we’ve got good players here. We’ve got players that can cause Rangers problems. We have got players who I feel can win this game on Wednesday.
“I’ve said this before, I want my players to feel that.
“I want them to show that they are good players and show that they are capable of getting the right result against a good side. This is the best Rangers side we’ve come up against and it’s important that they see a very good Aberdeen performance to make them work for everything they get. Hopefully if we work hard enough and get things going our way, we get everything we deserve to get and hopefully that’s a win.
“We’ve beaten good Celtic teams in the past and good Rangers teams in the past. We’ve got good players and it’s important we make this a good night for us.
“And if people see us as underdogs then so be it, it’s hard to disagree when you see the league table and you see the squads put together.
“But we are more than capable of landing a few blows as we go along against both sides of the Old Firm this season, hopefully starting on Wednesday and picking up an important three points.”
Match Page - Formation
SP 16 | Aberdeen v Rangers Preview : Live
Match Page - Text Commentary
Report | Dons show fight to claim a point
Derek McInnes made three changes to the side that defeated St Mirren 2-1 at the weekend. Shay Logan, Ash Taylor and James Wilson coming into the starting line-up with Dean Campbell and Ryan Hedges dropping to the bench, whilst Niall McGinn missed out through injury.
The visitors made two changes with defender Jon Flanagan and former-Don Ryan Jack replacing Glen Kamara and Borna Barisic in the starting eleven.
Rangers started positively and had the first shot of the match after 10 minutes which fell to in-form Alfredo Morelos. Greg Leigh stumbled as he tried to gather a ball through the Aberdeen defence, Morelos pounced on the error and fired a shot from an angle which Joe Lewis did well to parry wide.
A scrappy opening quarter-of-an-hour saw a series of free-kicks awarded with Shay Logan picking up a caution and Sam Cosgrove lucky not to join him in referee John Beaton’s book after he clattered Steven Davis.
Morelos again tested Lewis with a speculative shot after 17-minutes which the keeper saved well but Rangers did break the deadlock a minute later. James Tavernier gathered the ball on the right before squaring into the box for an unmarked Scott ARFIELD who clipped a low shot into the bottom corner to give his side the lead.
The closest the home side came to an attempt on goal in the opening 25-minutes came as Lewis Ferguson picked up a loose Ryan Jack pass and tried a speculative effort from 40-yards which was comfortably fielded by Allan McGregor.
The visitors doubled their lead on the half-hour mark and it was former-Don Jack that got the goal. Morelos exchanged passes with Ryan Kent before firing in a shot from just inside the penalty area. The Colombian’s effort was too powerful for Lewis to hold on to and JACK was on hand to tap in from close range.
The Dons gave themselves a route back into the match as they scored against the run of play in the 39th minute. A good run by James Wilson took him to the edge of the box where he played in Jon Gallagher. GALLAGHER took the ball round McGregor and his powerful shot found the net despite the best efforts of Tavernier and Helander on the line.
The home-side ended the half in more positive fashion following the goal but they were unable to create any opportunities for an equaliser before the end of a half dominated by the visitors.
HT ABERDEEN 1 RANGERS 2
Aberdeen started the second half on the front foot and created a chance in the opening seconds as McGregor saved at the feet of Cosgrove. They were rewarded for their positive start just seconds later as they squared the match at 2-2.
Ferguson’s clipped cross into the box broke off Leigh to Cosgrove, the big striker’s attempt at goal was blocked and the rebound fell perfectly for Andy CONSIDINE to smash the ball home from 8-yards out.
Aberdeen looked in the mood to add to their two goals and some good running from Gallagher down the right in the 55th-minute took him past Helander. The on-loan midfielder’s low cross found Cosgrove in the area whose low shot was blocked wide by Connor Goldson.
The Dons had another half-chance after 66-minutes and again, Gallagher was involved. The Aberdeen man put Helander under pressure and won a throw-in deep in the Rangers half. The resulting throw ended up with Flanagan thumping a clearance up in the air and Leigh leaped high on the penalty spot to fire a header straight at McGregor.
Cosgrove then passed up a glorious chance to put the Reds ahead in the 70th minute. Ferguson’s dangerous in-swinging corner found the striker who had peeled off Goldson but his downward header bounced just wide. Rangers then went up the park and Morelos again tested Lewis but his powerful shot was straight at the captain.
The visitors had a chance to regain their lead on 74-minutes as they were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Ferguson clipped Morelos as he headed away from goal and the foul was awarded dangerously close to the box. Tavernier lined up the set-piece but fired his shot into the red wall.
The Dons were dealt a blow with 12-minutes remaining as Considine was forced off through injury, being replaced by Connor McLennan. Goldson then picked up a booking as he cynically prevented McKenna breaking forward as the game entered its last few minutes.
Rangers were gifted a great chance in the 87th-minute as Taylor was harshly adjudged to have fouled Morelos on the edge of the box. Tavernier stepped up and whipped the free-kick towards the top corner and Lewis dived to his left to tip it wide.
The away-side had a late corner from the right in the 92nd-minute but Lewis calmly claimed Tarvernier’s cross into the area. It was the last attacking play of the match as the Dons resolutely saw out the final few seconds to earn a point.
FT: ABERDEEN 2 RANGERS 2