Celtic v Motherwell Preview
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Motherwell have improved in recent weeks since the appointment of Graham Alexander. They have only 1 defeat in 5 games which was when they were down to 10 men at Pittodrie. Included in the games was a draw with Rangers.
Motherwell will defend deep and will allow Celtic space out wide. We have not been good in wide areas this year and that will need to improve tomorrow. The wide forwards of Motherwell will look to press on our full backs but if we progress up the pitch as a team our full backs could have a bit more space, however the middle may be congested.
Taylor is not great at beating a man but if given space he has been ok with his final ball and has 19 key passes for the season so far and 3 assists. It will be Jonjoe Kenny's chance to shine. Rangers had 55 crosses against Motherwell in their recent game so there will be opportunities for crosses against them and Dundee Utd had 30 crosses. However we do need to improve in this area as we only had 15 crosses versus Kilmarnock.
Motherwell have been good at defending crosses though with Mugabi and Gallagher good in the air. Something I've been screaming out for all season is us getting width with two players (one overlapping) and then either crossing from the by-line or cutting back from the by-line for the other player to cross. The second option was a preference of Tommy Burns as it got the defenders turning and out of position. This could be a good option for us tomorrow.
Motherwell have won their last 2 games however the opposition wasn't too challenging (Ross County away and Dundee Utd at home) and they were out possessed in both games (47% possession v Ross County and 34% possession v Dundee Utd). They had 36 clearances versus Dundee Utd (the most of any team this midweek) and this indicates Dundee Utd were pressurising them and only 23% of the game was played in Dundee Utd's defensive third (joint worst this midweek with St Johnstone). Although they did have 6 shots on target (joint highest with us) despite this less possession so we do have to be careful and not give them any chances.
They are better than Kilmarnock so should be a tougher game but they are not as good as St Mirren. They only had a total of 282 attempted passes against Dundee Utd and had a low pass accuracy of 64% (3rd lowest of all 12 teams this midweek).
We need to ensure we don't give away too many corners to them with the threat they have in Mugabi and Gallagher. They had 11 corners in midweek (2nd most) and we gave Kilmarnock 10 corners (3rd most). Again an important role for Kenny and Taylor to avoid giving away corners.
My predicted line up is;
- Kenny, Bitton, Ajer and Taylor
- Turnbull, Elyounoussi and McGregor
- Edouard and Ajeti
- The above is assuming Bitton is fit and Christie is not.
Unfortunately I believe Brown will retain his place. He had a very good game on Tuesday but that isn't a prerequisite for him starting again tomorrow. Why should it be? We seem to think that if he plays well we just keep playing him till he plays bad then we can drop him again. Meanwhile when he plays bad it damages the team. We need to not play him before he gets bad. (That should have been the strategy years ago). He played well on Tuesday (107 touches, 84 passes at 90% accuracy) and thanks for that Scott but keep him as an option for future games if needed (maybe even as a sub).
I'm hoping even if Bitton is fit that Lennon sticks with Welsh but I wouldn't be surprised to see Bitton return. Normally I wouldn't want Turnbull in the No.8 position as don't think he has the defensive qualities further back however we may just get away with it given how Motherwell will line up. Turnbull coming from deeper and Elyounoussi helping to create from the No.10 role may be beneficial for us with the packed defence and midfield line in front of them. Although I do hope Christie is fit so we can have Christie as No.8 and Turnbull as No.10.
I predict Ajeti will continue his scoring run from when starting and I'm actually predicting that he'll taken his annoyance at being banned out on them and get himself a brace. Ajeti and Edouard helped the team have 46 touches in total in the Kilmarnock box midweek which was the highest of the season and this is a result of Ajeti taking up the attention of defenders and allowing Edouard some more space. Therefore I also predict Edouard to score as well.
On Tuesday Ajeti was dropping deeper than Edouard and my preference would be for Ajeti to just have his presence in the penalty box.
I can't see us scoring more than 3 goals given the way we are currently playing and I also can't see us keeping a clean sheet so the score prediction for me is 3-1 (Ajeti 2, Edouard and Watt for Motherwell).