Celtic v Aberdeen (Preview)
Probabilities for the match from the bookmakers are Celtic 70%, Aberdeen 10% and 20% for the draw and I would suggest that they are being a little bit generous on Celtic odds. For the previous match between Celtic and Aberdeen in November it was 73% for Celtic and I wouldn’t say that Celtic have a lesser chance of winning this game. I know Aberdeen weren’t great last season and they were 8th at the time of that game and I know they have made a few signings this summer but Celtic have definitely progressed since November.
For the season Aberdeen's xPts (expected points) were 56.7 and they only achieved 41 so 15.7 less than expected. This was the biggest variance of any team in the league. It was only 0.7 xPts less than Hearts (although they did have 5 matches in the bottom 6). So their performances weren’t as bad as they looked. From a stats point of view Joe Lewis looks to have underperformed for them in goals as Aberdeen conceded 40 non penalty goals against an Post Shot expected goals figure of 28.8. Individual goalkeeper stats show Joe Lewis as 2nd worst in the league having conceded 8.3 more goals than he should have and he was worst at save percentage for saves from shots faced at 64.4%.
Below is a 6 game rolling average graph for Aberdeen’s xG, xGA and xGD. (xG in black, xGA in red and xGD in a grey bar chart). The graph covers both 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 seasons.
Aberdeen actually had the 3rd lowest NP xGA in the league last season at 34.93 which was a good bit lower than Hearts who had 49.3. Celtic’s was 24.1 whilst Rangers’ was 26.68.
Aberdeen’s most played 11 players last season, for minutes played, were;
· Joe Lewis
· David Bates, Declan Gallagher and Ross McCrorie
· Calvin Ramsey, Funso Ojo, Lewis Ferguson, Scott Brown and Johnny Hayes
· Ryan Hedges and Christian Ramirez
Out of these 11 players only Lewis, Bates, McCrorie, Hayes and Ramirez are still at the club and Lewis and Bates have not been getting starts during the league cup games which leaves McCrorie, Hayes and Ramirez the only 3 players from last season’s most played 11 to likely be in their starting line up for the beginning of the season.
Stephen Glass was in charge for Aberdeen in the three games against Celtic last season.
Stats from the three Celtic v Aberdeen encounters from last season below;
· Pittodrie (Oct) – Celtic won 2-1 (NPxG 2.03/0.53). Possession 61% Celtic
· Celtic Park (Nov) – Celtic won 2-1 (NPxG 2.25/0.10). Possession 62% Celtic
· Pittodrie (Feb) – Celtic won 3-2 (NPxG 1.36/0.45). Possession 64% Celtic
Celtic having xPts of 2.1, 2.3 and 1.6 for the three games and for all three games Celtic’s attacks were mostly down the left with 47%, 48% and 47% down the left and 33%, 29% and 35% down the right.
59% of Aberdeen’s xG coming from set plays while only 21% of Celtic’s xG came from set plays in these 3 games.
As Stephen Glass was the manager for the games against Celtic I looked at the average positions of Aberdeen when they played at Ibrox in March as Jim Goodwin was in charge then. He played a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to how he has started this season and you can see from the average positions that the two pivots (29 and 19) are quite deep and on a similar line with the full backs (16 and 17) with the centre backs further back.
Aberdeen have signed nine players this summer;
· Dutch goalkeeper Kelle Roos from Derby and he had a save percentage of 75% in the 18 games he played for them in the Championship last season. This should prove to be a wise move given the possible underperformance of Lewis last season.
· Right back Jayden Richardson who played a couple of games for Nottingham Forest in the Championship last season and 24 games for Notts County whilst on loan from Nottingham Forest.
· Centre half Anthony Stewart who’s played just 8 games short of 300 for Wycombe in his career there.
· Liam Scales on loan from Celtic and they have been playing him at left centre back in the league cup games.
· Albanian central midfielder Ylber Ramadani who played 30 games for MTK Budapest last season.
· Macedonian forward Bojan Miovski also from MTK Budapest and he scored 19 goals in 58 appearances for them in the last two seasons.
· Cape Verde forward Duk from Benfica B side.
· Midfielder Callum Roberts from Notts County who scored 16 goals last season.
· 24 year old feft back Hayden Coulson who has signed on loan from Middlesbrough
Young left back Mason Hancock has been promoted from the youths and been playing in the league cup games. Vicente Besuijen is a 21 year old Dutchman who they signed from Den Haag in January and he’s now played 21 games for them with an xG & xA per 90 of 0.26. Another January signing was 6’3” American midfielder Dante Polvara but he has only played 8 games so far.
The predicted line ups for Sunday (with their xG and xA per 90 from last season) are;
- Juranovic 0.18/0.17, Carter-Vikcers 0.05/0.03, Welsh 0.09/0.08 and Taylor 0.06/0.17
- O’Riley 0.21/0.47, McGregor 0.13/0.18 and Hatate 0.19/0.16
- Jota 0.34/0.44, Kyogo 0.78/0.13 and Maeda 0.61/0.12
Although I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see Jens starting ahead of Welsh as Ange may take the opportunity to give him minutes while Starfelt is out and also at a time when Taylor is still in the team. Rather than waiting for Jens to maybe get time alongside Bernabei and having two new boys together.
- Richardson, Stewart, Bates 0.08/0.01 and Hancock
- McCrorie 0.05/0.01 and Ramadani
- Kennedy 0.08/0.22, Besuijen 0.16/0.10 and Hayes 0.06/0.17
- Ramirez 0.23/0.04
There are no xG figures available for Richardson, Stewart, Hancock and Ramadani for last year. Ramirez outperforming his xG of 0.23 by scoring 0.31 goals per 90.
Jack MacKenzie and Connor Barron are out injured. Ex Rangers player David Bates is likely to come in for Liam Scales as he can’t play against his parent club. McCrorie has been playing in midfield in the league cup games and likely to stay there although he could be put back to centre back for this game.
New signings this week Roberts and Coulson could potentially come in for Kennedy and Hancock but it depends on how much they are up to speed with training and getting used to their new team mates.
It will be interesting to see how Aberdeen progress this season and these new signings could make them stronger however they have lost Ramsey and Ferguson who were arguably their best two players last season as well as Hedges who would have also been one of their most influential players if it wasn’t for injury.
Celtic scored in the 15th to 30th minute on 20 occasions last season (a total of 25 goals) and on those stats the odds for scoring on Sunday in this time period should be 4/5 and therefore the odds of 2/1 that are available are very favourable. In two of the games against Aberdeen last season Celtic scored in the 15th to 30th minute and scored a total of three goals in that period over those two games.
Also based on Celtic’s first half goals to second half goals last season the odds on the first half having the most Celtic goals should be 23/20 and again there is 2/1 available.
So I’m going for a Celtic goal in the 15th to 30th minute at 2/1 and for Celtic to score more goals in the first half than second half at 2/1.
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