Aberdeen vs Celtic preview: Brendan Rodgers set for tough trip to Pittodrie
Last Updated: 26/12/18 1:01pm
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers believes Aberdeen's wobble earlier in the season was a false reflection of their abilities and expects another test at Pittodrie on Boxing Day (kick-off 2pm).
Derek McInnes' side won just two out of seven league matches in a tricky spell which lasted from late August to late October and saw them slip out of the top six, albeit a penalty shoot-out win against Hibernian also took the Granite City men into the Betfred Cup final.
However, since losing 1-0 to Celtic in the final at Hampden Park at the beginning of December, the Dons have recovered their form, winning five out of six, including their last four matches.
Saturday's 2-0 home victory over Hearts left them in third place, three points behind Celtic who cruised to a 3-0 home win over bottom side Dundee, and two points behind Rangers who beat St Johnstone 2-1 on Sunday.
"They are on a nice little run at the minute," said Rodgers. "Where they were at the early part of the season was probably a little bit false.
"Since the cup final. they have had some good results and it will be a good game. It is a place that you always expect a tough game and that is what we will prepare for.
"There has always been different types of games with Aberdeen but we know that it is always a tough game.
"We will go there ready to hopefully put in a good performance and get the points."
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes, meanwhile, hopes the Dons can extend the Christmas cheer for their fans by providing a win over Celtic that would take his side level on points with the champions.
"If we can be as strong as we can in terms of selection and physically, what a game it will be," he said. "You always want the Boxing Day game to be at home anyway, but you saw the crowd today - they had fantastic support for the players, and we'll need that and more against Celtic.
"They are the best team in Scotland, but they're a team we feel we can beat, and the fact we go into the game with a lot of players in a good place, we're confident and we'll have a full house. Hopefully these ingredients help us."
Rodgers is hoping to have a clutch of Celtic stars available, with the likes of Odsonne Edouard (abductor), Kieran Tierney (hip), Mikael Lustig (concussion) and Dedryck Boyata (hamstring) all in line to return at Pittodrie.
Striker Leigh Griffiths is out of football for a period of time with personal issues while Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani (both knee) remain out.
Aberdeen are sweating over the fitness of on-loan Derby left-back Max Lowe, 21, who has been a standout performer for the Dons in the first half of the season, and his impressive form has led his parent club to recall him in January.However, after being forced off through injury just after half-time in the Sam Cosgrove-inspired 2-0 win over Hearts, Lowe may already have made his last Aberdeen appearance.
- Aberdeen have lost nine of their last 10 league matches against Celtic, winning the other 1-0 at Celtic Park in May 2018.
- Celtic have won each of their last four league trips to Pittodrie; they have never previously won five consecutive away games against Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership.
- Aberdeen haven't won a home Scottish Premiership game on Boxing Day since 2006 (3-1 versus Kilmarnock).
- Celtic, who lost 0-2 to Hibernian in their last away outing, haven't lost back-to-back away league games since March 2013.
- Celtic left back Kieran Tierney has scored in both of his last two league appearances at Pittodrie (two goals).