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Shinnie's Back....... Unfortunately just for the day as his new club Aberdeen visit the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in Inverness. However, he will only be watching from the stands after injury in midweek. It's the famous for once versus the once famous as Aberdeen look to reach nine in a row against the Scottish Cup holders. Yes, the one we have been dreading is fast approaching as table topping Dandy Dons come to the Highlands. Not only with Graeme Shinnie, but Adam Rooney, Jonny Hayes and Barry Robson as well. We warmed up for this clash by removing Livingston from the League Cup in midweek, goals from Miles Storey and Danny Devine enough to see us safely through to round four. Not the greatest of displays it has to be said, but that's cup football for you. The important factor is that we did progress, which is more than can be said for some clubs. Our last League game saw us take a point from Tannadice after coming from behind to merit the draw. It was another robotic performance, but it's also another game under the belt for our new look squad and more game time for our returning crocks. Josh Meekings thundered home a header to earn the point after that chap Billy Mckay had opened the scoring in a first half dominated by United. Aberdeen limbered up by beating Hearts 3-1 in Edinburgh to make it eight wins on the bounce in the Premiership. David Goodwillie bagged a brace and Niall McGinn scored the other. That is a fantastic start to the season for Aberdeen who are starting to look as good as their fans believe they are. In the League Cup on Wednesday night they took on Championship side Hibernian. Hibs had not read the script though and took the wind out of Aberdeen's sails with a stunning 2-0 win. Not the result the Dons were expecting, but the loss of Flood and Shinnie early on would not have helped their cause. So, who are the players that have put the Dandy back in front of the Dons. Well, the addition of Graeme Shinnie has proven to be a terrific signing for attack minded Aberdeen, able to get at defences on both sides of the park. Aberdeen have been building towards this for a couple of seasons now and Shinnie is one of the final pieces in the Dons jigsaw. The key pieces have been new keeper Danny Ward who joined on loan from Liverpool and has jumped in ahead of Scott Brown. Midfielder Paul Quinn has come in from Ross County and added some bite to the midfield. Ryan McGlaughlan is a defender signed on loan from Liverpool as well and is a useful squad player. They have also added a pair of strikers to the squad in Joe Nuttal from Manchester City and Josh Parker from Red Star Belgrade. Our own Graeme Shinnie is a difficult one for us to swallow, but he is a vital part of the red machine now. Derek McInnes had to reduce his budget to help subsidise these new arrivals and out went a host of recognised players. Russell Anderson retired, and keeper Jamie Langfield saw the writing on the wall and went to Paisley. Joe Shaughnessy and Nicky Low went to Tayside, Clark Robertson is at Blackpool and Declan McManus nearby at Fleetwood. Former Hearts player Andrew Driver has left the building and promising youngster Lawrence Shankland is on loan at St Mirren. A host of fringe players have also left the building. That's a lot of players out at Pittodrie, but he has brought in more quality and less quantity to continue the Aberdeen resurgence. It seems to be working so far. Recent form will show that Aberdeen are unbeaten since the start of the season in the League. They are not the highest scoring team in the League (15), but have still scored more than twice as many as us (7). Their defence has been rather miserly though conceding only three goals in eight games. We are the draw specialists with four and that could work in our favour given our reluctance to score goals. On the down side, Aberdeen won all four of our meetings last season. Meh! Crocks corner. Inverness are slowly getting players back, but it's three in and two out. Meekings, Vincent and Foran have returned the last couple of games, but Iain Vigurs and Tobi Sho-Silva missed out at Livingston. Longer term absentees Gary Warren, Aaron Doran, Dean Brill and Jordan Roberts are still out. Aberdeen took a couple of knocks in midweek against Hibs. Willo Flood and Graeme Shinnie were removed from the park in the first half with injuries, and Derek McInnes has confirmed that both will be out of this clash. Flood could be out for over a month. Mark Reynolds has a shoulder injury and sits this one out. Jonny Hayes is eligible after his red card ban and will return to the squad. tm4tj prediction:- Oh my, this really is a tough one. Aberdeen on the form of their life and Inverness struggling to get any momentum going. The statistics don't lie and it's difficult to see past a win for The Dons. Graeme Shinnie has settled in brilliantly and Adam Rooney was the top scorer in the land last term. If he's not scoring, then David Goodwillie is eager to step forward and Niall McGinn is not shy either. We are still struggling to come to terms with the loss of Shinnie, Mckay and Watkins, coupled with a crippling injury list which has denied us of our regular back line. Yes, it has been a struggle, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with Meekings and Vincent back. New striker Miles Storey has done well and has pace to burn. Mutombo can add a spark as well and Fon-Williams is looking solid between the sticks. Hibs showed the way to do it in the midweek League Cup encounter and that might unsettle the Dons. Ach well, somebody had to do it. I'll stick my neck out here and go for a dramatic draw to ruin the Dons perfect start in the League. I met a very nice couple called Hamish and Morag Rosie, whilst on holiday in Venice. We had a great time in the few days we spent together. Hamish is a very talented man, author and artist. He is originally from Orkney, but unfortunately he is an Aberdeen fan and has been rubbing it in since we met. I'm sorry Hamish, but it's our turn. Enjoy the preview.
Graeme Shinnie is in the PFA Premiership Team of the Year ! Deserved ! Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster (Celtic) Defenders: Graeme Shinnie (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Virgil van Dijk (Celtic), Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United). Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen), Kris Commons (Celtic) Forwards: Steven May (St Johnstone), Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock), Nadir Cifti (Dundee United)