PREVIEW: Scottish Cup Fifth Round – Celtic v Aberdeen

Holders Celtic continue their defence of the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off in the marquee tie of the fifth round.

Celtic sign at Parkhead (as of 19th August 2015)

HOLDERS Celtic continue their defence of the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off in the marquee tie of the fifth round (KO 12:45pm).

The Hoops – who won the competition for the 36th time last seasonthrashed Hearts 7-0 at Tynecastle in the previous round in one of their best performances of the campaign so far.

The Dons edged past Partick Thistle at Firhill in early December to reach this stage courtesy of an Andrew Considine header.

And the seven-time winners will be aware of the stiff challenge awaiting them at Celtic Park, where they will return to compete in the League Cup final in March after booking their place with a 4-0 win over St Johnstone last weekend.

Neil Lennon’s side are in blistering turbo mode at present with an extraordinary 14 victories in a row in all competitions.

Top scorer Kris Commons has shone for the champions during the magnificent winning sequence, bagging 13 goals in his last 12 appearances including eight in his last seven league outings.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster broke a 100-year club record following the 1-0 success against St Mirren last time out with an eleventh successive shut-out.

The Pittodrie club, who have won five of their last seven matches, are yet to concede in five domestic cup ties so far this term.

They are the nearest challengers to leaders Celtic in the Scottish Premiership but sit 21 points adrift in second place.

Derek McInnes’s men have lost both league meetings between the sides, succumbing 2-0 in August when goalkeeper Jamie Langfield was sent off before a 3-1 defeat in Glasgow back in November.

Aberdeen were knocked out by Hibernian at this stage 12 months ago and will be looking to repeat their League Cup exploits as they seek to win silverware for the first time since 1995.

The two sides, who also meet later this month in the Scottish Premiership at Pittodrie, are bidding for a place in next month’s quarter-finals.

Their last Scottish Cup meeting came in the semi-finals three seasons ago as Celtic ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at Hampden Park before beating Motherwell in the final.

Since that clash in April 2011, the Hoops have dominated the fixture with seven wins from eight subsequent league encounters.

The Dons have not picked up a league point at Celtic Park in 17 attempts and last triumphed over the Bhoys in any competition in January 2009.

Celtic have won their last 10 home matches against the north-east outfit but their last defeat came in the last Scottish Cup meeting at Parkhead in 2008.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen are unbeaten in their previous four Scottish Cup matches against Celtic at Parkhead, winning two and drawing two, with their last defeat coming in March 1951.

When speaking to the club’s official website ahead of the game, Celtic’s Georgios Samaras recalled a dramatic 4-3 win over the Dons last March.

The Greek forward scored a last-gasp overhead kick as the Hoops came from 3-1 down to secure a vital three points.

“It was an amazing end to a game and I will always remember it, but this game will be much different.

“It will be a really tough one because Aberdeen are enjoying some really good form too. They play good football and have some really dangerous players that we have to be wary of.

“To their credit they don’t just defend when we play them. They try to create and score goals but what is important is that we are the cup holders. We need to make sure that we win this because it is our cup.

“We know we have to be ready both physically and mentally and I know we will be.”

Elsewhere in round four, Celtic’s Glaswegian rivals Rangers take on League One counterparts Dunfermline Athletic on Friday night at Ibrox.

On Saturday, Hibernian host Raith Rovers, Alloa Athletic entertain Dumbarton, Inverness travel to Stranraer and Motherwell’s fourth-round conquerors Albion Rovers welcome Stenhousemuir.

Top-flight St Johnstone make the trip to third-tier Forfar Athletic while Dundee United and St Mirren lock horns in another all-Premiership affair at Tannadice on Sunday.

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