It’s a belated first visit of the season to Pittodrie for the Lions as they make their longest trip of the season to take on last season’s Ladbrokes Premiership runners-up Aberdeen on Tuesday night.
The two sides were meant to go head-to-head back on the last Saturday in October but the Dons’ run to the Betfred Cup semi-finals forced the clash to be rearranged.
Few would have expected that a clash between the runners-up in the Premiership and Championship would see the newly-promoted side ahead of their more illustrious rivals but the weekend’s results saw Livi move a point ahead of the Dons as the season nears its midway point.
With all that in mind, let’s look to match number 4 of 8 in the Lions’ hectic December schedule.
How have the Dons fared so far this season?
Having finished as Premiership runners-up in each of the last four seasons, this campaign has failed to live up to the expectations of the Dons fans.
They started their season in the Europa League back in late July, giving English Premier League side Burnley a huge fright before bowing out 4-2 on aggregate after extra time.
Their Premiership campaign started with five points from their first three games, a 1-0 win at Dundee sandwiches by 1-1 draws against Rangers and Hibs. Their first league defeat came in early September as they lost 2-0 at home to Kilmarnock having played 85 minutes with ten men.
After a 1-1 draw at St Johnstone, the Dons’ inconsistencies were on full display as they beat Motherwell 1-0 before losing by the same score to Celtic, then followed a 4-1 win over St Mirren with a 2-1 loss at Hearts.
While their league form was patchy, there was no doubting their pedigree in the Betfred Cup as a 4-0 home win over St Mirren and a penalty shootout success at Easter Road set up a semi-final clash with Rangers at Hampden. Lewis Ferguson’s late header steered the Dons into the final for the second time in three seasons, where they would again face Celtic.
That Hampden triumph sparked an upturn in their league form as Derek McInnes’ side strung together three straight wins over Hamilton (3-0), Kilmarnock (2-1) and Hibs (1-0), though that revival came to a shuddering halt with a 3-0 thumping at Motherwell in late November.
Then came the Betfred Cup Final but it was a case of ‘same old story’ as they lost a third consecutive final to Celtic. All the more galling was the sight of former loanee Ryan Christie, who had almost returned to the club in the summer, scoring the winning goal.
The Dons responded well to their disappointment against Celtic by beating Rangers 1-0 thanks to Scott McKenna’s early goal. However their patchy form continued as St Johnstone ran out 2-0 winners at Pittodrie on Saturday to leave the Dons in seventh place with seven wins from 15 matches.
What does the head-to-head between the two sides look like?
The overall head to head record between the two sides is fairly even. In 28 meetings, the Lions have won nine to Aberdeen’s 11 with eight draws.
Despite being in a lower division, the Lions were something of a bogey team for the Dons in Cup competitions, twice causing Scottish Cup shocks with 1-0 Pittodrie wins. The first came in 1999 as Ray Stewart’s side, en route to the Second Division title, stunned Paul Hegarty’s Dons thanks to a John Robertson goal. Scott Crabbe was the match winner two years later as Jim Leishman and David Hay’s First Division champions in waiting won a fourth round replay on their way to the semi-finals.
Now divisional rivals in the SPL, the Lions claimed another sensational cup win in September 2001, this time in the League Cup as doubles from Barry Wilson and Massimiliano Caputo set up a thumping 6-1 win for Livi at Pittodrie. The league meetings that season were far more even with one win apiece at Pittodrie and two Almondvale draws.
Aberdeen won three out of the four meetings in 2002-03 before the sides met a remarkable seven times in the 2003-04 season with Livi unbeaten in those encounters including both the League Cup and Scottish Cup Quarter-finals.
The Dons have won five out of the last six league meetings, the other a goalless draw at Pittodrie which was a rare ‘high’ point during Paul Lambert’s reign at Livi, while the last time the two sides did battle was a League Cup Third Round tie back in 2014, which the Dons ran out 4-0 winners.
Is there any team news ahead of the big game?
Livi are still without long-term absentees Lee Miller and Raffaele De Vita, while Ryan Hardie may not be risked from the start after playing 70 minutes on Saturday as he continues his own injury comeback. With Hearts to come on Friday night, Lions boss Gary Holt may look to shuffle his pack once again.
Gary Mackay-Steven is likely to miss out again for Aberdeen as he recovers from concussion suffered during the Betfred Cup Final but otherwise there are no new injury or suspension worries for the Dons.
What are the chances of a first Livi win at Pittodrie since 2004?
League sponsors Ladbrokes don’t rate the Lions’ chances of three points, with an away win priced at 4/1. The Dons are 4/5 favourites with the draw priced at 23/10.
Livi have enjoyed two 3-0 victories at Pittodrie over the years – if you fancy a repeat of that scoreline, that’s 90/1.
How much is it to get in?
Livi fans will be accommodated at the east end of the South Stand at Pittodrie and can ‘pay at the gate’ to gain entry. Ticket prices are as follows:
£19 Over 65
£15 Age 18-21/Over 75
£10 Under 16s
£6 Under 12s
Is there a supporters bus running?
As always, the Livi Lions Supporters Club will be running to a bus to the game, picking up at various points around West Lothian at the following times:
- Bathgate (The Dreadnought) 3.30pm
- Carmondean (The Saltire) 3.40pm
- Almondvale Stadium (Stadium Bar) 3.45pm
- Dedridge (opposite Crofthead Farm) 3.50pm
- Mid Calder (The Black Bull) 3.55pm
- Pumpherston (opposite The Cawburn) 4.00pm
The return fare is £15 for all travellers. There are still plenty of seats available so just turn up at your chosen pick up point and hop on board!
I can’t make the game, how can I keep up to date?
As ever, we will have live text commentary over on our Twitter from around 7.15pm. Highlights can be available on the BBC Sport Scotland website from midnight.
We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday night!