Miller: Hearts can pump new life into Aberdeen quest to catch Celtic

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

WIL­LIE MILLER, the former Aberdeen cap­tain and man­ager, in­sists Derek McInnes’ side’s Premier­ship ti­tle chal­lenge won’t be dead in the wa­ter if they lose to league lead­ers Celtic on Satur­day. Af­ter a su­perb start to the sea­son that saw the Pit­to­drie club win their first eight top flight fix­tures, they now head to Park­head this week­end in des­per­ate need of a re­sult to kick-start their cam­paign.

Celtic have opened up a four point ad­van­tage at the top of the ta­ble and will hope to see off their per­ceived ti­tle ri­vals and pull fur­ther away as they chase a fifth con­sec­u­tive league tri­umph. De­feat this week­end would leave Aberdeen on the back foot, but Miller hopes his former club can spark some ex­cite­ment in our game and keep the race go­ing for longer.

“The dis­ap­point­ing as­pect has been the last four games for Aberdeen af­ter that fab­u­lous start,” he said. “We thought we were go­ing to get a real close ti­tle chal­lenge. If they lose on Satur­day it’s still only seven points, which is re­cov­er­able. You have to re­mem­ber we’ve got Hearts putting in a chal­lenge whereas last sea­son it was Aberdeen on their own. Hearts have al­ready taken points off Celtic and I think jointly they can keep it closer.

“Within Scot­land ev­ery­one expects Celtic to run away with the ti­tle. I don’t think that hap­pened last sea­son. Aberdeen put in a cred­i­ble ti­tle chal­lenge right up un­til April, which we haven’t seen for a num­ber of years.”

Aberdeen emerged as Celtic’s clos­est chal­lengers for the top flight crown last sea­son but even­tu­ally fin­ished 17 points adrift of Ronny Deila’s side in the stand­ings. A 2-1 win over the Hoops last month gave fans hope that they could launch a more se­ri­ous ti­tle bid this sea­son and Miller reck­ons avoid­ing de­feat would be a step in the right di­rec­tion af­ter tak­ing one point from the last five matches.

“They’ve al­ready beaten them at Pit­to­drie and if they get a draw at Celtic Park it’s a de­cent re­sult, ab­so­lutely,” Miller, speak­ing at an event to pro­mote SPFL spon­sors Lad­brokes, said. “So I don’t think [a draw] is a dis­as­ter by any means and I’m sure Aberdeen would take it. But the full three points would be a mag­nif­i­cent re­sult for them and it would put them right back up there very close to the cham­pi­ons.”

JOINT EF­FORT: Miller be­lieves Aberdeen and Hearts can com­bine to keep Celtic within reach

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