Five things we learned from Aberdeen 2 - 1 Celtic
Craig Fowler gives his take on the big showdown at Pittodrie
THE TOP FLIGHT TITLE RACE REFUSES TO FINISH
No matter how many times it seems Aberdeen have blown their chance to put serious pressure on Celtic, they just won’t go quietly into that good night. They must now use the many positives from this terrific win to ensure they are still within touching distance the next time these teams meet. Derek McInnes’ side have shown on their day they are as good as the champions but it’s business against the rest they must start taking care of. The acid test comes in the coming weeks. Celtic have two home games and then a trip to Hamilton. Aberdeen, meanwhile, don’t play at home again until the end of this month, with three successive games away from Pittodrie.
TACTICAL CHANGE PUT DONS IN DRIVING SEAT
Aberdeen were struggling at the beginning of the match as Celtic, buoyed by the return of Scott Brown, dominated the midfield battle. Then Derek McInnes made a change, pushing Adam Rooney out to the right and Jonny Hayes in the centre of a five-man midfield. It added an extra layer of protection in defence, while Rooney was still encouraged to drift inside and partner lone striker Simon Church whenever the hosts had possession. This alteration played a role in Aberdeen’s opening goal. Rooney and Church each fought for a bouncing ball and when it was only half cleared by Celtic’s defence, Hayes showed no hesitation to rifle home a stunning effort from 25 yards.
CHURCH LOOKS TO BE A SHREWD SIGNING
Aberdeen’s support weren’t unanimously behind the addition of the Welsh striker on loan from MK Dons. Some felt his career goal tally mirrored that of the outgoing David Goodwillie. However, while Church may not repeat his scoring heroics every week, there’s no doubt he put in a tremendous shift against Celtic. Up front on his own for much of the contest, he fought and harried the opposing centre backs, causing all sorts of problems with a combative approach. Aberdeen often have issues breaking down stodgy teams. They may finally have someone to clip the ball into in tight areas, watch him fight off opponents and create space for others in attack.
CELTIC ARE MENTALLY FRAGILE AT THE MOMENT
For the second game in succession, Ronny Deila’s side did not respond well to adversity. Against Ross County they didn’t respond well to the Efe Ambrose red card and meekly went down to a side that, remember, had lost to Aberdeen despite holding a man advantage in a recent match. In this game, Deila’s charges controlled the game until Hayes’ goal, and then they fell apart. Aberdeen quickly added a second and could have been three or four goals to the good before Celtic got their act together and started dominating the last 20 minutes. Their failure to end this title race is the exact reason some are expecting it to go down to the wire.
NEW CELTIC SIGNINGS SHOULD MAKE IMPACT
In the case of Colin Kazim-Richards it might not be a positive impact. However, while the striker should have seen red for a stamp on Kenny McLean, he otherwise gave a good account of himself by fighting for aerial battles, making clever runs off the ball and looking like an immediate upgrade on Carlton Cole and Nadir Ciftci. At the back, Erik Sviatchenko always kept touch tight to the opposing attackers, and while Church may have given as good as he got in that particular battle, the Danish defender at least looked like he had heart for the fight, which is not something you can always say of Dedryck Boyata and Efe Ambrose.
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