Friday, October 19, 2012

SPL: Dundee United v Aberdeen

According to the encyclopedic @SPLstats Saturday will be the 87th time Dundee United have hosted Aberdeen in a league game at Tannadice.

In the previous 86 matches there have been 29 home wins, 28 away win and 29 draws.

The insperable New Firm.

They've been plotting different routes through the SPL this season though.

United started with 3-0 wins over Hibs and Dundee. Then they flatlined.

0-0 draws with Ross County and St Johnstone have been joined by a 3-1 defeat at Kilmarnock, a 3-0 defeat at home to Hearts and a 4-0 defeat at Inverness.

Not scoring and conceding too many. A nasty combination.

It's hardly critical. After losing out to the double whammy of Celtic's American jaunt and Motherwell's creaky power supply they have two - tough - games in hand and are only seven points off second place.

But few would have tipped them to be second bottom of the league in a season where many expected them to lead the chasing pack in their pursuit of Celtic.

Injuries haven't helped. It's been United's misfortune to have held on to key players in the summer only to lose some of them in the early part of the season.

Few SPL clubs can sustain their form with big names missing from their starting XI.

The real surprise is how poor a job United have made of papering over the cracks.

With their game before the international break postponed they should have had time to regroup and recover from the run of bad results.

Unfortunately they'll have had to do that without Peter Houston, absent on Scotland duty. Not much of a break from bleak results that, although he might soon have more time to spend with his club.

If Houston's United have weakened over the opening weeks of the season, Craig Brown's Aberdeen have only got stronger.

Early on it looked as though Brown had assembled a sound squad but not quite worked out how to make them click.

But they are undefeated since their opening day loss to Celtic, and while four home draws looks worryingly similar to seasons past wins against Hibs at home and Kilmarnock away have lifted them to third in the table.

Brown, whose past achievements as Scotland manager take on greater significance with every flunked qualifying campaign, has bought wisely and looks to be blending experience and youth quite well.

There might be occassions when Aberdeen don't set the pulse racing - Craig's too old to cope with 3-3 draws with Motherwell each week - but they might just prove to be one of the more consistently effective sides this SPL season.

So tomorrow looks like being a historically tight result with recent form favouring the visitors and the bookies favouring the home side.

Ladbrokes Game On! The draw is 12/5, an Aberdeen win is 12/5 while a United victory is 11/10.

Strikes me this is one of those games that could either be an absolute belter or the dampest of 0-0 squibs (7/1).

Aberdeen have won the last two head-to-heads though and carried the better form into international week.

Given United's scoring issues I'm tempted by a 2-0 Aberdeen win at 14/1 but there's a tendency for both sides to score in these games so 2-1 Aberdeen at 10/1 it is.

13/2 for a half time draw/full time Aberdeen combo might also have a certain allure.

Did we think back in 1998 that more than a decade on Craig Brown would still be the last Scottish manager to take the national team to a major championship?

Did we heck as like.

So I'll back the master to pile on more misery for the apprentice's apprentice.

I might take the half time draw/full time draw at 4/1 just in case though.

All odds from Ladbrokes #gameon

Always remembering www.gambleaware.co.uk