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ANALYSIS: Loan deal for Liverpool midfielder Leighton Clarkson proving a shrewd move from Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Leighton Clarkson scores a free kick to make it 1-0 against St Johnstone.
Aberdeen's Leighton Clarkson scores a free kick to make it 1-0 against St Johnstone.

Two early contenders for goal of the season in his opening three matches are proof of an explosive start from Liverpool star Leighton Clarkson.

The 20-year-old announced his arrival at Aberdeen with a sensational long range strike in the 4-1 defeat of St Mirren.

Yet again the England U20 international underlined his undoubted class with a sensational 25-yard free-kick in the 1-0 defeat of St Johnstone.

The goal was a virtual carbon copy of previous loan signing James Maddison’s memorable injury time free-kick to defeat Rangers 2-1 at Pittodrie in September 2016.

Aberdeen’s Leighton Clarkson celebrates after making it 1-0 against St Johnstone.

Maddison was on loan from Norwich City at the time.

He would go on to make a £22.5 million switch to Leicester City in June 2018 and is now a top flight regular.

Newcastle United are tracking Maddison and had a £50m bid rejected this summer.

On early indications Clarkson has the quality and game changing vision to follow the same route as Maddison to the very top of the game.

Clarkson’s superb performance against St Johnstone was about so much more than that sensational goal.

He delivered a string of exquisite through balls, incisive passes and was highly influential.

Champions League experience

Secured on a season-long loan from the Anfield club the midfielder has already started in the Champions League.

He played all 90 minutes in a 1-1 group match draw with FC Midtjylland in December 2020.

Aberdeen supporters should enjoy Clarkson’s quality while he is at Pittodrie.

The loan market allows Aberdeen to secure players of that calibre who would be way out of the club’s price range.

The only hope will be that Liverpool gaffer Jurgen Klopp does not recall the game-changer from the loan spell early.

Loan star Leighton Clarkson fires in a free-kick against St Johnstone.

Klopp recalled keeper Danny Ward early from a season long loan in January 2016.

The Reds subsequently suffered in the second half of that season.

It was a case of the rising star and the seasoned veteran impressing for Aberdeen in Perth.

Hayes makes 300th Dons appearance

Winger Jonny Hayes, 35, made his 300th Aberdeen appearance and produced, as usual, a high standard of performance.

Clarkson’s goal ended a 19-game run without a Premiership away win for Aberdeen.

That drought dated back to a 1-0 defeat of St Johnstone in December 2021.

Aberdeen finally ended their league away day hoodoo with a performance that was vastly improved on last week’s dismal 3-2 loss to Motherwell.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes made his 300th appearance for Aberdeen.

The Dons were more aggressive, tidier in possession, tight at the back and carried a threat in attack.

It was a win that leapfrogged Jim Goodwin’s Reds back into the Premiership top six.

Aberdeen made one change to the side that lost to Motherwell at Pittodrie last weekend.

Andy Considine faces Aberdeen

On-loan Middlesbrough left-back Hayden Coulson returned from injury.

Coulson replaced winger Matty Kennedy who failed a fitness test on the eve of the match.

The return of Coulson allowed Ross McCrorie, who was influential, to move back into midfield having featured at centre-back against Well.

St Johnstone’s Andy Considine is shown a yellow card against Aberdeen by referee Craig Napier.

This was the first time in a competitive match former Aberdeen defender Andy Considine had come up against his former team.

Considine had played for Saints against Aberdeen in a friendly bounce game (1-1) in Spain earlier this summer.

Scotland international centre-back Considine had the offer of a new Dons deal taken off the table last season when contract talks broke down.

It brought to a conclusion 18 years in the Dons’ first team for the Pittodrie legend where he racked up 571 appearances.

St Johnstone’s Jamie Murphy and Aberdeen’s Leighton Clarkson in action.

Bojan Miovski goal chalked off

Aberdeen had a goal chalked off in the 10th minute when Bojan Miovski headed in a Hayes cross from 12 yards.

It was tight but the North Macedonian international striker, a £535,000 signing from MTK Budapest, looked to be onside.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski has a goal ruled out for offside against St Johnstone.

In the 19th minute, Considine was booked for a rash challenge on Besuijen.

Aberdeen keeper Kelle Roos blocked a low 25yard free kick whipped in from a tight angle by Graham Carey in the 38th minute.

Clarkson’s moment of magic

A stop-start game was calling out for a moment of magic – step forward Liverpool star  Clarkson.

Hayes was fouled 25 yards out in a central position.

Clarkson brilliantly curled a sublime free kick beyond diving keeper Remi Matthews into the top far corner in the 56th minute.

Moments later Ross McCrorie fired a half-volley wide from 12 yards as Aberdeen began to dominate.

Leighton Clarkson of Aberdeen applauds the away fans as he is substituted.

Aberdeen keeper Roos produced an impressive diving save in the 8oth minute to block a Jamie Murphy shot from 15 yards.

In injury time substitute Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes played Shayden Morris through on goal.

However, keeper Remi Matthews raced out to block Morris’ 18 yard shot.

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Roos 7; Coulson 7, Scales 7, Stewart 7, Richardson 7; McCrorie 7, Ramadani 7; Hayes 7, Clarkson 7 (Lopes 75), Besuijen 7 (Morris 70); Miovski 7 (Polvara 85).

Subs: Lewis, MacKenzie, Watkins, Duncan, Milne, Ramirez.

ST JOHNSTONE (3-4-2-1): Matthews 7; Considine 6, Mitchell 6, McGowan 6 (O’Halloran 84); Brown 6, Phillips 5 (Phillips 62), Hallberg 6, Wright 6; Murphy 6, Carey 5 (Kucheriavyi 62); Bair 5 (May 62).

Subs: Parish, Gordon, Mahon, Crawford, Ballantyne.

Referee: Craig Napier

Man-of-the-match: Ross McCrorie (Aberdeen)