It’s Scottish Cup quarter-final weekend and the draw has presented what bookies have described as “The most predictable rounds ever” but at Pittodrie, one would argue, we see the biggest chance of an upset. Partick Thistle travel north off the back of a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet in a 1-0 win away to Dundee. Their form has been excellent as of late and has seen them climb to sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership. On the other hand, Aberdeen were beaten by the then-bottom club Hamilton at New Douglas Park. No matter of form, both teams will be highly motivated as a semi-final trip to Hampden is at stake so now let’s look at the games major turning points.
INJURY WOES FOR THE DONS
At the aforementioned game against Hamilton, the Reds suffered a couple of injury blows to add to their pre-existing problems. Centre-half Mark Reynolds, winger Jonny Hayes and central-midfielder Ryan Jack are all set to miss Sunday’s game. The wideman, Hayes, is a big part of Aberdeen’s attacking threat and has provided six goals this season so he will be a big miss for Derek McIness if he can’t make it back as is expected. Ryan Jack and Mark Reynolds are big misses as they offer solidarity and organisation to the Dons midfield and defence respectively. I would say that Thistle are probably in as good a position as ever to get something from the game at Pittodrie m, whether that is a replay or possibly a win.
AN INEVITABLE NIL
In recent weeks, Partick Thistle have really improved at the back. The addition of Niall Keown to the Jags backline has been a welcome one and they have now kept eight clean sheets in their last ten games. That being said their attack has been up and down. Kris Doolan has been playing well of late and his hard work earned them a the winner against Dundee in midweek but it’s still not clear whether this form will hold up. Even with their good scoring form recently, the Jags haven’t conceded and scored in the same competitive game since December the 23rd so I wouldn’t put my money on both teams to score.
ARCHIE’S PITTODRIE PROBLEMS
Since the Jags’ return to the top flight of Scottish football they have only beaten Aberdeen once, at Firhill back in 2014, and at Pittodrie they have picked up just two points from a possible 18. Pittodrie hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Archibald’s men but this season they’ve been decent on the road, beating St. Johnstone, Ross County and Dundee twice away from home and also drawing with Hearts at Tynecastle before their recent collapse. It would be a perfect time for their first Pittodrie triumph of recent times with Hampden in their sights.
ABERDEEN AIMING FOR CUP TRIUMPH
With the league table being dominated by a strong Celtic side who are strolling to yet another Scortish Premiership title, many Aberdeen fans will realise that a cup win is probably the best they can achieve alongside a second place finish. They came close to a cup victory in November after making the final of the Betfred League Cup but in that final, they were handily beaten by Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops. The prospect of a return to Hampden would be an attractive one for the Dons faithful and a win against Thistle would provide that. With Celtic, Rangers and Hibs all still in the competion and with them all having home games in the quarters, a potential semi-final certainly wouldn’t be easy if they should overcome Partick Thistle.
Tonight, the battle for a Scottish Premiership top six spot heats up as sixth place Dundee host seventh place Partick Thistle. One point separates the two sides and the game is a tough one to call as both teams have hit a purple patch of form recently. Dundee come into the game off the back of four games unbeaten including an impressive win against Rangers and a rampant 5-1 triumph against a hapless Motherwell side. On the other hand, the Jags have won three games in a row including a 2-0 home victory against fourth place Hearts so both sides will surely see this as a winnable fixture. So now we can look at the main talking points going into tonight’s match.
DOOLAN FINALLY FIRING
One of the main reasons Partick Thistle have been stuck near the lower regions of the Ladbrokes Premiership recently has been their inability to score. Striker Ade Azeez has scored just once in the league all season and Kris Doolan has shown flashes of class but has stifled to be consistent. For the most part, Doolan had been restricted to substitute appearances in the first couple of months of this year but after a game-changing performance off the bench against Hamilton, he has been reinstated to the first eleven. In the Jags’ most recent game, the striker started and scored within the opening five minutes. As well as a goal, he put in a great performance, tirelessly working for the team and linking up well with Chris Erskine before being substituted late in the clash. Are the last two games a sign that the fans’ favourite is back on top form? Or will the Thistle attack continue its inconsistent tendencies?
GREAT ATTACK OR SHODDY DEFENCE?
Last Saturday, Dundee picked up an incredible 5-1 victory over Motherwell. The well-publicised win lead to the dismissal of Mark McGhee as ‘Well boss with the Dees netting five times in the first 45 minutes. The opener was an own goal but Mark O’Hara, Craig Wighton and a brace from recent revelation Matcus Haber lead to an impressive attacking display. But was the scoreline a reflection of a dangerous frontline or was it more telling for the Steelmen’s defence? The Motherwell back line wasn’t a strong one with 19-year-old Zak Jules thrown into the fray at centre-half having played just 11 senior games in his career with seven of those being non-league games in England. Another 19-year-old started the game as well in the form of Jack McMillan. So we will see tonight how this Dundee attack will fare against a strong Thistle defence. Speaking of which…
RESOLUTE JAGS BACKLINE
At the beginning of the season, Partick Thistle had struggled to keep teams out late in games. They dropped points against Hearts, Hamilton, Rangers and Ross County because of goals in the last ten minutes of games. This is, however, a weakness they seem to have eliminated recently. The Firhill side have kept seven clean sheets in their previous nine competitive matches showing that the side is much improved in that department. Young Niall Keown has been a great addition to the Jags unit, allowing Thistle to move between a four-at-the-back formation and three centre-half set-up on a game-by-game basis. Dundee have failed to score in both of this season’s previous encounters against the Maryhill men and judging by other Jags recent defensive displays, it might just stay that way.
THIRD TIME LUCKY?
As mentioned before, Dundee have failed to score against Thistle in this season’s previous two meetings between the sides. Both of those games have been Jags victories as well. Alan Archibald’s men are the only team that the Dees have been unable to score against or take points from this campaign. This is a record that Paul Hartley’s team will be looking to obliterate tonight especially coming off a confidence boosting win at Fir Park.
The match kicks-off at 7:45 from Dens Park in Dundee. It promises to be an intriguing match that could swing either way. It’s a game that could swing the race for the top six in either side’s favour and you can expect a review of the match on here tomorrow.