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Scottish Premiership 22/23 season start

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Aberdeen seeking a piece of history


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http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=707328&sec=scotland&root=scotland&cc=5739

 

It has been over 30 years since Aberdeen last recorded back-to-backwins over the Old Firm but that feat is within their sights again.

 

The Dons are still on a high following their 1-0 Pittodrie victoryover Rangers, a result many expect will further enhance manager MarkMcGhee's red revolution. Next up for Aberdeen is a trip to Parkhead totake on league leaders Celtic - a fixture they once used to reallydread.

It was the season of 1979-80 when the Dons beat the Gers1-0 at Ibrox in the league before returning to the Central Belt torepeat the trick in a League Cup quarter-final clash. And it wascurrent Dons boss McGhee who netted the precious winner against theCelts.

Not that McGhee remembers much about those two clashes orindeed his goal and was only reminded of it by his son, Ben, by text inthe wake of the win over Walter Smith's struggling Light Blues.

Somecritics think that McGhee's men weren't that impressive againstRangers, the reigning SPL Champions, and it was more the fact Smith'sside were so poor that the Dons came out on top.

Whateverargument you may favour, the simple fact remains that the men from theNorth took all three points and the result has helped to further breedconfidence throughout their ranks. Aberdeen's rising stars showed theyhold no fear and are savouring the prospect of attempting to take theirsecond big scalp in succession.

Youngsters Peter Pawlett andMichael Paton have helped to breathe new life into McGhee's team andwill again have a key role to play particularly as they'll be withoutsuspended skipper Mark Kerr.

Pawlett's energy and ability to beatplayers could prove crucial if the Dons are going to create chanceswhile Paton will again be expected to produce a discipline shift on theleft.

McGhee hopes his young warriors will share the same mentality he had when facing the Old Firm as a Don.

"Iwould hope they believe they have a chance of winning against Celtic.In my day we expected to do that not just hoped for it," he said. "Weare not quite there yet but if we play to our highest level we cancause them problems.

"Do I remember my goal against Celtic? No.But the fact we have a chance to break a record after beating Rangersis something more for the players to aim at."

Aberdeen visit TonyMowbray's Hoops side still smarting from their Europa League exit,though they did beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv on Wednesday to record their firstwin in Group C. Goals from Georgios Samaras and Barry Robson helped seeoff the Israelis, but they still progress along with Hamburg after theGerman side won against Rapid Vienna.

Mowbray's men produced asolid show against Tel Aviv to at least end their campaign on a high.But they paid the ultimate price for a poor start to their EuropaLeague fixtures and it was no surprise to see them bow out of theircontinental charge.

However, the boss reckons had luck favoured them slightly more in certain games they could progressed.

"Thefrustration is that we haven't really got what we deserved from thecampaign," Mowbray said. "We've been very competitive, but there yougo, the results are what they are and we have to get on with it.Against Tel-Aviv it was a very similar performance to what we sawthroughout the campaign - disciplined, organised. We took a few moreopportunities tonight, whereas in games gone by we have missed a fewopportunities.''

Ironically the Bhoys go into their latest league test against theDons on top of the SPL table thanks to Aberdeen's weekend win over theGovan club. They are now forced to concentrate on domestic issues andit will be interesting to see how they react to their European miserywhen they return to league action.

The long-term injuries toinfluential players Scott Brown and Shaun Maloney could also impact ontheir hopes of silverware success. Both Mowbray and Smith know thiscould prove to be the tightest league title race yet and not justbetween the Old Firm.

Celtic have won 27 points from 13 gamesthis term and lead the charge by two points ahead of Rangers althoughthey have played a game less. Hibs are third on 25 points from 13fixtures with Dundee United in fourth two points further back but havealso only played 12 matches.

So if the chasing pack can all gangup together to take on the Old Firm it could well prove to be one ofthe most interesting league races in many years. And Aberdeen could notonly become record breakers this weekend but could also play a majorrole in the final destiny of the SPL League crown if they can win atParkhead.

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