After 48 hours of uncertainty, Derek McInnes was in the dugout for Aberdeen’s visit to the City of Discovery to take on Dundee. Here are five things we learned...
Ryan Christie makes Aberdeen tick
Sorely missed in the 2-1 defeat to Rangers, Ryan Christie was available again and flitted between midfield and attack. Always happy to take the ball and run with it, or play in a team mate, his vibrance and energy in the middle of the park greatly contributed to Aberdeen winning what was a rather scrappy game. Fast, direct, tricky and a goal threat, he was one of the key components of Aberdeen’s attack.
Played centrally in the first half, he was moved out wide for the second period after Frank Ross came off for Kari Arnason, and continued to exert his influence on the game.
The amount of meaty challenges of which he was on the receiving end indicated how much of a threat he was perceived to be by the Dundee rearguard.
Was robbed of an almost certain goal, and the chance to put the game to bed, when Graeme Shinnie elected to shoot rather than square it with just under ten minutes left. Cleared the ball off the line with the last kick of the game to ensure the points would be heading north at full time.
Scott Allan may be rediscovering his form
Rightly lauded as the standout in the Hibs midfield during their first season in the Scottish Championship, Allan joined Celtic before appearing to vanish off the face of the earth. He did make 13 appearances for Celtic but fell out of favour. A loan spell and a reunion with former boss Alan Stubbs at Rotherham United failed to recapture his form and it was no surprise when he was shipped out on loan again in the summer of 2017. He hasn’t had the best luck at Dundee - a niggling groin injury kept him sidelined for weeks - but his cameo against Rangers, which saw him set up the winning goal with a sublime reverse pass, and his appearance off the bench against Aberdeen suggested he’s over his injury worries and is getting back to his best. His return to full fitness will be a welcome boost for a Dundee team who are crying out for more decent final balls - all Neil McCann has to do is work out how to include him in his starting XI.
Joe Lewis is surely destined for greatness
The Englishman was in good form at Dens, frustrating Dundee time and again. His save from Roarie Deacon’s vicious effort in the first half was top-drawer, after he had blocked an earlier effort from the same player. While he wasn’t called into serious action too often - thanks mostly to the Aberdeen rearguard - he made a handful of saves to ensure Aberdeen kept their first clean sheet in seven games, including from Sofien Moussa’s header in the second half. He may already be 30, but Lewis surely has a good few years left in him. Aston Villa were linked with the ‘keeper last month and more clubs may come calling if Lewis keeps up this sort of form.
Both sides could do with a centre forward
Sofien Moussa and Marcus Haber have scored two goals between them (one apiece) in 18 appearances. Midfielder Mark O’Hara has scored three. Kerr Waddell - a centre half - has scored two. While Faissal El Bakhtaoui has grabbed three, the French-Moroccan attacker flatters to deceive and has a tendency to wildly shoot on sight of goal. Dundee’s leading goalscorer, A-Jay Leitch-Smith, was restricted to a ten-minute cameo. With Haber currently injured, and Moussa having had his injury problems as well, it would be no surprise to see McCann dip into the transfer market in January for a forward.
Up front for Aberdeen, Adam Rooney had a quiet night. The Irishman scored in the 7-0 thrashing in March at Dens, but never really looked like coming close to repeating the feat this evening. In fact he hasn’t scored since he netted a hat-trick against St Johnstone at the end of September. Stevie May and Greg Stewart have contributed goals but are often played out wide. Luckily for the Dons, they have goals all over the pitch - Kenny McLean, Gary Mackay-Steven and Ryan Christie have all scored from midfield while Andrew Considine and Shay Logan can be a threat from defence. Rooney has been the Dons’ top scorer for the last three seasons, but with just four goals to his name so far, he’ll have to find his shooting boots to have any hope of coming near the 20 goals he bagged last season.
Aberdeen showed no ill-effects from the McInnes saga
Questions were asked in the lead-up to this game about Aberdeen’s ability to cope with the turmoil of the last week, in particular the last 48 hours.
Back-to-back defeats to Rangers combined with a resurgent Dundee looking for their third win on the bounce meant Aberdeen were under a bit of pressure coming into tonight’s game. The decision made by Derek McInnes to remain at Pittodrie will surely have given the Dons a boost going into this game. The game may have been short on quality but the Dons did what they had to to earan the three points, and in doing so, showed why they are viewed as the second force in Scottish football - and a lot of that is down to McInnes.