Time for the good, the bad, and the ugly from yesterday’s Celtic vs Motherwell game. The 3-0 victory was obviously welcomed after the midweek debacle but let us look at whether the performance matched the result. All data courtesy of Wyscout.
In the 18 games against Motherwell over the preceding five seasons, Celtic averaged 1.93 non-penalty xG vs 0.69 for Motherwell, on 20 vs 7 shots. Motherwell entered the game having averaged just 1.02 in npxG in their first five league games this season. They rank 520 in the SPI, which compares to 156 for Ferencvaros. Motherwell are not of a standard which should present much opposition at Celtic Park.
Yesterday’s game saw Celtic generate 1.50 xG vs 0.33 for Motherwell, on 15 vs 5 shots. Motherwell were without their formerly best player, but also Liam Donnelly, who was out injured. Adjusting for how much worse Motherwell are versus Ferencvaros, and the history of performance levels in the matchup, yesterday’s performance was not a good one.
The good was dominated by the last 33 minutes, in which Celtic generated xG at a rate of about 3.00 per 90 minutes. Frimpong’s substitution resulted in a switch to 3-4-2-1 formation for 8 minutes, with a Christie and Ntcham playing dual 10’s behind Klimala. Ajeti’s substitution for Ntcham resulted in a move to 3-5-2 for the final 24 minutes. The average pass map for the game also showed a Bizarro World inversion against tendency, with a cluster in the right half space. Still not balanced, but at least not unbalanced left!
The bad was the continued issues which remain unaddressed and unresolved. Taylor and Brown continued offered little in attack or creatively. I am not going to continue hammering them with poor statistics, as I believe most are now switched on to reality. McGregor, while devastating on the counterattack for Forrest’s goal, was still shackled next to Brown for most of the game, with zero xG and just 0.08 xA. Christie, Moi, and Ntcham’s were all relatively ineffective overall.
A significant amount of the game’s attacking end-product came from Ajer and Jullien, which is a credit to them. However, I am skeptical that relying upon attacking and creative output from them would be sustainable against higher quality opponents. Jullien accounted for 0.45 of the team’s 1.50 xG, and none that output came from headers.
The ugly was what appears to have been an attack on my Twitter account, as it appears my analysis of Celtic may be unwelcome by some. I have been accused of sharing “private information.” After having had threads targeted and my account locked on Saturday and Sunday, Twitter has threatened to ban my account permanently. 2020 – what a time to be alive. End.