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Sean Wallace: Why December will be make or break for Aberdeen’s season

December is Aberdeen's biggest month for years as they could end a nine-year trophy drought and rocket up the Premiership table - if the defence cut out the sloppy mistakes.

Aberdeen's Bojan Miovski lying on the ground with his head in his hands
Aberdeen's Bojan Miovski looks dejected after missing a big chance during a cinch Premiership match at Hibs. Image: SNS.

December could be a winter wonderland for Aberdeen or a winter of discontent – and it all hinges on the defence.

The Dons face arguably their biggest month for years with a December which can end a nine-year trophy drought and make or break the Premiership campaign.

Aberdeen face Rangers in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden on Sunday, December 17.

Having taken four points from six against Rangers this season, confidence must be high they can secure a first trophy since the League Cup in 2014.

Due to the dual demands of Euro group stage and domestic commitments the Dons are struggling in the Premiership, languishing a lowly 10th in the table.

A meagre return of only 13 points from 13 Premiership fixtures is unacceptable from a team rebuilt extensively and expensively in the summer transfer window.

Hibernian's Dylan Vente scoring against Aberdeen
Hibernian’s Dylan Vente (R) scores to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen in the Premiership at Easter Road. Image: SNS.

Such a lowly league position is a concern, but there is no need to hit the panic button yet as a league resurrection can be delivered in December.

Aberdeen have six Premiership fixtures in a packed month, with five at Pittodrie.

The Dons kick-start the run of home fixtures with the visit of Kilmarnock tonight.

They then face third-placed Hearts, bottom club Livingston, Motherwell and St Mirren at home before the end of the year.

An away trip to Dundee on Saturday, December 23, is the only break in that run of home league games.

All six Premiership fixtures this month are winnable and a streak of victories would propel the Dons right up the table and into the fight to finish third.

However, all six fixtures could also go the wrong way – and it all hinges on how the Dons cope defensively.

Aberdeen have the attacking firepower capable of beating Rangers in the final and rocketing up the Premiership standings.

However this is tempered by a defensive vulnerability, which has cost them sloppy goals, and mistakes which will be increasingly damaging if not fixed soon.

Whether Dons supporters are celebrating a memorable end to 2023, or looking nervously towards what 2024 brings, is down to the defence.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson has persisted with a defensive line-up of three centre-backs signed during the summer window – Slobodan Rubezic, Richard Jensen and Stefan Gartenmann.

Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic in action
Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic in action during the 2-0 loss to Hibs at Easter Road. Image: Shutterstock.

However. the Dons have delivered just four clean sheets in 23 matches in all competitions this season.

Aberdeen have conceded 23 goals in 13 Premiership matches so far this campaign – the second worst defensive record in the top-flight.

Only Motherwell, with 25, have leaked more goals than the Dons in the Premiership this season.

Keeper Kelle Roos, who has three league clean sheets this term, has also pitched in with the third-highest amount of saves in the Premiership.

Dutchman Roos has 45 saves in 13 games, with only Ross Laidlaw (Ross County, 54 saves) and Dimitar Mitov (St Johnstone, 50 saves) ahead of him.

That shows Roos has been left exposed by the defence too often and has had to come to the rescue.


Aberdeen have now lost 22 straight Premiership games where they have conceded the first goal.

That is a concerning statistic when the rearguard are making costly errors.

If Aberdeen go behind to the opening goal, they have yet to show – domestically anyway – a capacity to recover from this early set-back.

The Dons centre-backs need to gel now and start delivering clean sheets.

Aberdeen’s trophy hopes and bid to finish third and qualify for Europe depend on it.

Hibernian's Will Fish celebrating with Jair Tavares against Aberdeen
Hibernian’s Will Fish celebrates scoring to make it 2-0 with his teammate Jair Tavares (l) against Aberdeen. Image: SNS.

Scotland can shine at Euro 2024

Scotland have landed a Euro 2024 group they are more than capable of progressing from in Germany next summer.

Facing tournament hosts Germany,  Hungary and Switzerland is far from a straightforward draw – but it is also not a “group of death”.

Scotland have proven in recent years that they can perform against top teams, such as the memorable Euro 2024 qualifying defeat of Spain at Hampden.

Under manager Steve Clarke, the Scots are well organised, disciplined and very hard to beat.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke at the side of the pitch
Scotland manager Steve Clarke during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier between Scotland and Cyprus. Image: SNS.

On top of that they also have players that can deliver a moment of magic to turn games.

Under Clarke, Scotland finally ended a major finals drought dating back to the 1998 Word Cup when qualifying for Euro 2020.

The Scots failed to hit the heights in the Euro finals, but lessons will have been learned.

After a wait of more than 20 years to feature in a major tournament, the achievement of reaching back-to-back Euros cannot be underplayed.

Now the next step is to become the first Scottish team to progress from the group stage in a major finals.

For so long there have been hard luck stories and “what ifs?” with Scotland.

But this Scots squad have progressed from tales of woe to delivering the goods.