October 20, 2012
Houston looks for derby lift
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.6||1.2|
|Goals against *||1.7||1.5|
|Last 5 home||L-L-L-W-D||D-W-W-D-L|
|Last 5 away||W-L-D-D-D||D-D-D-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Dundee United | Aberdeen|
|12/14||A: Kilmarnock||12/14||H: St Mirren|
|12/21||H: Ross County||12/21||A: Inverness Caledonian Thistle|
|12/26||A: St Mirren||12/26||H: Motherwell|
|12/29||A: St Johnstone||12/29||H: Ross County|
|1/1||H: Aberdeen||1/1||A: Dundee United|
Dundee United manager Peter Houston believes the visit of New Firm rivals Aberdeen in Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League match should act as the perfect pick-me-up for his side.
The Tannadice club are looking to get back to winning ways in an attempt to climb clear of second-bottom spot in the table when Craig Brown's Dons team arrive on Tayside.
United have had to bide their time since their 4-0 defeat in Inverness three weeks ago, with their match away to Motherwell postponed before the international break due to a power failure.
United have not scored in four SPL games and Houston believes the extra spice caused by their old rivalry with Aberdeen should spur his players on.
He said: "There's normally no lack of atmosphere when these two clubs get together.
"So for that reason, it's probably the best game we could have hoped for, the way things have worked out.
"There's a healthy rivalry between us which I hope can bring out the best in my own players.
"We should get a decent crowd inside Tannadice so there will be no extra motivation required.
"I've watched Aberdeen and they have changed their system this season to include a lot of creative players now.
"They have the likes of Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn, while Gavin Rae, Mark Reynolds and Russell Anderson have all got plenty of SPL experience between them.
"They are a threat so we'll need to play well to beat them.
"They have proved they've got character by coming back at Motherwell not that long ago when they were 3-1 down so this will be nothing other than a very difficult match for us.''
Houston has every faith in his players despite their failure to claim three points since beating Dundee in August.
He has called on his men to adopt a back-to-basics approach as they seek to arrest their recent decline.
United are still without injured winger Gary Mackay-Steven and former Rangers defender Gregory Vignal is not ready for his debut.
Houston said: "First and foremost we need to do the right things, like defending properly.
"That's how any team starts to get going again and we're no different.
"To be fair, the lads are really keen to get back into action as there was a lot of frustration when the Motherwell game went off through nobody's fault.
"That's just one of those things that happens in football but we can't wait for the Aberdeen game.
"We know ourselves that the teams who have scored against us have scored three and four which is not good enough from our point of view.
"We will be working on getting a clean sheet this weekend and hopefully take it from there.''
Aberdeen will be without Ryan Jack after the youngster suffered a broken foot while on international duty with Scotland's Under-21s.
Boss Brown has absolved Scotland Under-21s coach Billy Stark of any blame over Jack's injury.
Jack is expected to be sidelined until the end of January but Brown says the Dons were simply unfortunate and refused to point the finger of blame.
He said: "I've got to commend Billy Stark who was straight on the phone to me full of apologies. He said he couldn't apologise enough for what happened to him.
"I told him it was certainly not his fault. I was assistant manager of the Scotland team when Ally McCoist broke his leg in Portugal.
"That was a major blow to the player and the club and this is a blow to the player and the club as well. The difference was, that was a competitive game and this was a friendly fixture.
"But you can't do without friendlies when trying to prepare the Under-21 national team. So it's absolutely no fault whatsoever of Billy Stark and his Under-21 fixtures - we were just unlucky.''
Other than Jack, Brown expects to name a similar squad to the one who defeated Kilmarnock in their last outing.