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Brown's return (v Kilmarnock)

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Kilmarnock v Celtic (Wed Feb 2nd 2021)

Kilmarnock 0

Celtic 4 (Brown 29, Edouard 53, 62 PEN, Ajeti 86)

The talking points before the game were;

1) Would Brown start instead of Soro? (We hoped not).

2) Would Turnbull get the No.10 position back? (We hoped so).

3) Would Ajeti get a start? (We hoped so).

and would this be team selection number 34? (See my blog on 33 different team selections ... ... ).

All 3 thoughts were realised and as Marvin Lee Aday says 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Brown started and this filled me with dread. To be fair Soro’s stats were at their lowest v St Mirren but I still wouldn’t have brought in Brown. However I was pleasantly surprised as he scored the first and had an assist. He had 2 shots in total, 2 key passes in total, he had the most touches of any player on the pitch (107), 3rd most accurate passes at 76 (behind Ajer and Welsh) with a passing accuracy of 90%, 0 losses of possession, 11 duels won (from 14), 3 tackes won, 3 aerials won, 3 clearances, 5 interceptions and 8 recoveries.

Compare that to the last league game he started (v St Johnstone) in which he had 0 shots, goals, assists or key passes, only 45 touches, only 24 accurate passes at 83%, 1 loss of possession, 2 duels won (from 8), 0 tackles won, 2 aerials won, 1 clearance, 3 interceptions and 8 recoveries. His improved fitness, focus and energy produced better results in every measure except recoveries which was equalled. Even taking into account the fact he was subbed v St Johnstone at 60mins it was a far better individual performance.

Turnbull was moved back to the No.10 which was a good move with him delivering 2 assists. (Christie came in for Elyounoussi allowing Turnbull to move to the No.10 position). Turnbull has 52 key passes for the season now which is the most despite him not making his impact in the team until mid-December.

Then as we thought might happen (given Lennon’s comments about Griffiths) Ajeti was given a rare start. I did mention beforehand (in 8 different partnerships in 9 games blog ... ..) that Ajeti needed a fairer crack given he had scored on his first 3 starts and been dropped after each of those games. Ajeti scored again taking it to 6 goals in 7 league starts and he also won us the penalty.

Also discussed pre-match was Duffy. As expected Kenny made his debut at right back and this allowed Ajer to move into the middle. However with Bitton injured Duffy still didn’t keep his place as Welsh was brought in. (Something many fans would have endorsed).

Welsh played well with 97 touches, the best pass accuracy of the match (93%), 4 aerials won, 4 clearances, 2 interceptions, 0 loss of possession (only him and Brown had 0) and 8 recoveries.

We lined up with;

- Bain

- Kenny, Ajer, Welsh and Taylor

- Brown

- Christie, Turnbull and McGregor

- Ajeti and Edouard

Johnston, Elyounoussi, Klimala and Laxalt came on as subs.

Comparing stats versus our Home game against Kilmarnock we did improve on the majority of them – possession (68% v 64%), touches (820 v 712), passes (632 v 524), pass % (85% v 83%), passes final third (213 v 191) and touches in Kilmarnock’s box (46 v 35).

However shots were 12 (6 on target) versus 26 (10 on target) in the previous game and corners were only 4 (11 in the previous game). Also we allowed Kilmarnock to have more threat with them increasing their shots from 2 (1 on target) to 12 shots (3 on target) and corners increased from 3 to 9.

Inspired by @jucojames 's Good, Bad and the Ugly I’m going to conclude my match review with a Stop, Start & Continue.

We need to stop (the ugly) ….. allowing opponents to have high xG chances as better opponents will punish us.

We must start (the bad) ….. Soro on Saturday. Brown played well but milking him and continuing to play him till he doesn’t is a flawed strategy and gets punished when we realise too late.

We should continue (the good) ….. with Turnbull at No.10 and Ajeti up front. Ajeti will score and he’ll give space for Edouard to score as well. Early goals will help the mindset of the team. Turnbull’s key passes will see even more benefit with a settled forward partnership.

Key note – We need a positive right now so I’m going to end on one. 46 touches in the Kilmarnock box was the most touches we’ve had in any opponent’s box this season.

More to follow here on Celtic Trends in regards to touches in the box and how they compare in the different formations.

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