Friday 9th March, 2018 at 1:28pm
Following the postponement of last weekend’s clash between Thistle and Ross County it has been an extra long wait for Alan Archibald and his players as they look to put right the failings from the previous two games.
It’s a tough match that the Jags return to with the visit of last season’s runners up, Aberdeen, to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Despite the challenge facing his side, when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk, Archibald was clear that everyone knew the importance of the task in front of them.
“I think Derek’s sides have evolved each season and I think they’re a stronger team this time round than they have been in previous seasons. Getting McGinn back is a massive boost to the team and I’ve no doubt they missed him while he was away. They’ve got a number of players who represent real threats and we need to cut the supply to those players.
“They’ve got a real desire too and they’ll be a tough nut to crack on Saturday, as they are every time we play them. It’ll be a challenge but, following the last two bitterly disappointing results, we’ve put ourselves under pressure to take points from the next three games which are tough ones against teams above us in the league.
“We knew the fixtures we had and you look at the ones you think are more winnable which takes pressure off the games against the bigger sides meaning you can play with a bit more freedom there. All the teams around us are similar though and we’ve all got something to play for, whether it’s the guys at the bottom or the guys at the top there’s no gimmes in any of the games.”
Aberdeen may be one of the strongest teams in the league but Archibald believes that this year’s Premiership as a whole is the strongest in recent times.
“I think this is probably the strongest league we’ve had in a while. You could see most clubs were aware of that at the start of the season and there was certainly a feeling that there might be a bigger gap start to open up between the top five clubs and the rest of the division.
“Normally most years you’ll see one of the clubs from the bottom half go on a bit of a run, we did it last year, Kilmarnock are doing it this year and someone else will probably do it next season. I think those top five teams will continue to get better and stronger as the seasons go by.”
Although the last two results were extremely disappointing for anyone of a Thistle persuasion Archie insists that his side knows the lessons that must be learnt.
“We’ve just not been seeing games out to be honest with you. I thought we played really well in the Dundee game but switched off for the last 10 minutes and got punished. Similarly last week against Hamilton there was nothing in the game but we switched off and it cost us. Overall our play has been fine but we need to find a way to win the match. At this stage of the season it’s not about playing well or playing great football it’s just about getting three points and that’s what we need to do – grind it out.
“The games we have won this year have been hard fought matches where we have had to grind it out. In those matches our game management has been very good and that’s where we let ourselves down in the last two games.
Finally the gaffer gave ptfc.co.uk a rundown of the latest squad news.
“We’re ok on the injuries front – we’ve got a full squad to choose from except Stuart Bannigan. Obviously with the snow last week we missed a couple o days training but we’ve been lucky enough to secure facilities all of this week so we’re in a good position as far as that is concerned.
“Conor Sammon picked up a knock on his ankle in the last game but has been back to training this week and should be fine. It should make for a good battle if he plays and of course you’ve got Dools there as well so we’ve got good options and we’re confident we have enough to take something from the game.”
More exclusive preview interviews with Christie Elliott, Blair Spittal and Jags gaffer, Alan Archibald, are now available to Jagzone subscribers – log in to see them. Jagzone members will also be able to watch highlights of the game.
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