Kari Arnason thinks Aberdeen’s success at Motherwell proves they are capable of battling for wins as well as playing free-flowing football.
The Dons won 1-0 at Fir Park on Sunday against the Steelmen.
The Reds were not at their best in Lanarkshire at the weekend but it was a welcome response to Thursday’s 3-0 League Cup quarter-final defeat against the same opposition at the same venue.
Arnason reckons their victory, secured courtesy of Andrew Considine’s second-half goal, shows that Derek McInnes’ team are able to scrap with teams to pick up wins when they are not able to play their usual attacking football.
The Icelandic international said: “That result goes to show that we can play both ways.
“When we are on it, we can play some good football.
“But when we are a bit down and haven’t been playing well we can battle it out and that is a very positive thing.
“It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
“We didn’t compete with them on Thursday and that’s why they won the game.
“They were first to the first ball and first to the second ball, they were willing to go the extra yard. But on Sunday it was our turn.
“We were winning the battles, first balls, second balls.
“We kept it simple, it wasn’t pretty but we got the win.
“It was a different line-up, we had more physicality in the team.
“You don’t expect wingers with the ability of Ryan Christie to be winning all of his headers.
“We had a lot of centre-backs on the pitch and were then hoping to get Ryan Christie and Kenny McLean on the ball in good areas.
“For the goal, we did that. Kenny McLean came short, got into a good area and we got a goal from that.
“Although it was a very scrappy goal towards the end.
“But it’s a very good win.”
After coming on as a second-half substitute in the League Cup reverse, Arnason was restored to the starting line-up on Sunday.
After re-signing for a second spell with the Dons in July on a one-year contract from Cypriot side AC Omonia, the fans’ favourite has not been a regular feature.
The 34-year-old came on as a sub against Apollon Limassol in the Reds’ Europa League third qualifying round first leg and started in Aberdeen’s Premiership opener against Hamilton Academical.
But after that he had to wait until Kilmarnock’s visit to Pittodrie the Saturday before last for his next start before appearing in both games against Motherwell.
Arnason is pleased with his own form, but knows he faces plenty of competition to secure a regular place at centre-back.
McInnes can also use Anthony O’Connor, Mark Reynolds, Dominic Ball, Considine and Scott McKenna at the heart of the defence.
Arnason said: “I felt good against Motherwell and recently I have felt ok and I am getting there.
“I do have competition but it’s down to the manager.
“He controls the situation and it is up to him who plays.
“That competition does help and it is always positive to have competition in the team.
“You just have to do whatever you are good at for the team and hopefully you’ll get the chance to play.”
It was youngster McKenna who lined up alongside Arnason in defence on Sunday. The 20-year-old was brought in by McInnes for his physicality and was outstanding in what was just his fifth appearance for the first team.
Arnason was impressed with his defensive partner, and said: “He’s a very good player, Scott.
“He’s young so he can’t be expected to play every game, but he is a fantastic young prospect.
“He’s shown that for Scotland under-21s where he’s man of the match almost every game he plays for them.
“He’s got the physicality and he’s got his head screwed on right.
“I don’t have a complaint about him.
“He is a fantastic young prospect and he has a very bright future.”
Arnason also revealed that since returning to the Granite City during the summer transfer window, McKenna’s talent has stood out.
The veteran defender also tried to pass on some of his experience to McKenna before Sunday’s game. He added: “I have noticed him and the talent he has since I came back to the club.
“For a centre-back at 20 years old to have that physique it’s not very common you see that.
“He’s built like a bulldozer.
“He’s got the ability to do whatever he wants with his career.
“I tried to talk to him and I had a few words with him before the game to tell him to play to his strengths.
“I also told him to deal with the forwards and he did that. He was just very focused, he wasn’t nervous.”