Football Expert & Columnist
Andy Walker says Aberdeen and Hibs' SPL meeting could be crucial to their league ambitions
Aberdeen or Hibs could launch a challenge for second by winning Sunday's clash, says Andy Walker.
Last Updated: 21/01/13 11:44am
Pittodrie is far from the fortress it used to be for Craig Brown's men, who have just three home wins from eleven games this season.
Finishing second behind champions-elect Celtic will bring huge financial rewards and Hibs will also fancy their chances of going on the type of run that would generate this potential cash windfall.
Sunday's clash is also sure to focus on a shootout between two of the top men in the SPL this season.
I'm anticipating a game full of chances and that augurs well for a few goals with both Niall McGinn and Leigh Griffiths in sparkling form this season.
Former Celtic man McGinn - normally viewed as a wide midfielder - has taken to the role of striker exceptionally well and netted 14 times so far.
Considering the variety of goals he gets, I imagine there's much more to come from the Northern Irishman and a target of more than 20 before the season is out is not beyond him.
McGinn has shown on the international stage with a goal away from home in a 1-1 draw with Portugal that he is capable of scoring on the big occasion and I thought he was unlucky not to have a bigger say at Celtic, but this move to Aberdeen has given him first team football every week and he's thriving on the added responsibility.
Like Aberdeen, Hibs are capable of big results and proof of how effective they can be was provided just before New Year when Pat Fenlon engineered an impressive 1-0 win over Celtic.
Hibs fans were given an enormous boost to their chances of finishing second when the club were able to secure the services of both Griffiths and defender Ryan McGivern til the end of the season. Griffiths, on loan from Wolves, has 15 goals to his credit so far and a final total in excess of 20 is possible.
At 72, Brown has almost 30 years more experience than Pat Fenlon but both managers must realise the importance of finishing second this season in the absence of a title challenge to Celtic.
Brown can give Sir Alex Ferguson a run for his money in terms of longevity but he won't be around as manager for too much longer. The board of directors will no doubt be thinking of the longer term so finishing second and possibly getting to the final of the Scottish Cup would be a fitting send off for the former Scotland boss.
I think Pat Fenlon deserves enormous credit for putting to one side the humiliation and embarrassment of the 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts and getting a winning mentality back at Easter Road.
Even allowing for the excellent run of form from current high-flyers Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Motherwell, I believe both Aberdeen and Hibs have the strength in depth to go on the type of run that could see either finish higher in the table.