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Celtic v Motherwell (Preview)

Probabilities for the match are Celtic 84%, Motherwell 4% and 12% for the draw. 84% is the highest probability for winning for any team in the Scottish Premiership this season.

Motherwell have played 4 at the back in every game this season and they have flirted between 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3.

In their last game (at home to Hearts) they played a 4-2-3-1 and lined up with the following;

  • 1 Liam Kelly

  • 16 Paul McGinn, 15 Sondre Johansen, 4 Ricki Lamie and 24 Matthew Penney

  • 6 Barry Maguire and 27 Sean Goss

  • 11 Joseph Efford, 26 Ross Tierney and 7 Blair Spittal

  • 9 Kevin van Veen

With their full backs wide and advanced and the three attacking forwards narrow.

They lost 3-0 to Hearts despite having an xG of 2.65 and an xGA of 1.82.

Rolando Aarons came on for Efford after 30 mins and was then replaced by Stuart McKinstry after 45 mins. Bevis Mugabi, Dean Cornelius and Louis Moult came on for Lamie, Maguire and Tierney after 67 mins.

Goalkeeper Aston Oxborough, right back Stephen O'Donnell, midfielder Lennon Miller and forward Robert Mahon were unused subs. Jake Carroll and Nathan McGinley were out injured.

The game before against Dundee Utd at home 8 Callum Slattery started instead of 6 Maguire. This was another game of high xG with Motherwell having 2.49 xG versus Dundeee Utd's 0.36. They couldn't capitalise on this though and it was 1 point each in a 0-0 draw.

Motherwell had 66 possession in this game.

In goals is Liam Kelly. He was 12th out of the goalkeepers in the league for goals prevented last year on 9.9 conceded more than expected and he was 9th for save percentage on 67%. However he has improved his goals prevented this year with 1.3 less goals conceded which is 2nd best. Although his save percentage has dropped to 65.4% which is 8th in the league. His average long balls per game are 8.3 and there are 5 other goalkeepers with more than this.

Motherwell have two new full backs this season. On the right is Paul McGinn signed from Hibs and on the left is Matthew Penney who is on loan from Ipswich. Stephen O'Donnell and Nathan McGinley are the replacement full backs. Jake Carroll (left back) is out for the season.

Centre backs are Sondre Johansen and Ricki Lamie. Johansen is averaging 9.57 aerial duels per match and Lamie is averaging 8.31 which is 6th and 9th in the league. Johansen's success rate is 61% but Lamie's is very good at 83%. Lamie has the most recoveries in the league at 18.65 per 90 with Johansen 4th on 15.82 while Lamie is 3rd for interceptions at 8.11 per 90. Lamie is also 5th in the league for clearances at 5.6 per 90.

Bevis Mugabi is the first centre back to be called upon when a replacement is needed while Juhani Ojala is another option.

The two defensive midfielder are Barry Maguire and Sean Goss and the attacking midfielders are Joseph Efford, Ross Tierney and Blair Spittal. Spittal signing from Ross County in the summer.

Maguire is the deeper player of the two defensive midfielders as you can see from the average position maps above.

Sean Goss has had 17 shots at goal this season (5th in the league) but they have only been at an average of 0.04 xG per shot. He has 14 passes per 90 minutes into the final 3rd and that is the most of any player in the league. Although his accuracy is only 69% on these passes. His accuracy for all passes is 80.2% and he averages 51 passes per 90 which is the most of any Motherwell player. With Lamie next on 44. Goss also takes the corners and free kicks.

Ross Tierney has Motherwell's best xA per 90 at 0.20 however this is only 24th in the league. Spittal has their most crosses at 1.4 per match (8th in the league).

Cover for defensive midfield is Callum Slattery. He has had 2 secondary assists this season and he is the 5th most fouled player in the league at an average of 2.38 fouls per 90. He makes up for this as he gives away the 3rd most fouls at 3.17 per 90. 16 year old Lennon Miller has been on the bench in recent games.

Rolando Aarons (on loan from Huddersfield) and Stuart McKinstry (on loan from Leeds) came on as subs last week as attacking right sided midfielders and Dean Cornelius (who also came on as sub last week) has been used on the left of midfield when Motherwell have played a 4-3-3. Josh Morris, signed from Salford, is another attacking midfielder that has been used this season.

Up front is Kevin van Veen. He has scored 4 goals this season and has an xG of 5.67 which is the highest (by 1.17) of any player in the league. His xG has come from the fact he has had 26 shots at goal this season (which is the most of any player) and that he's had 3 penalties (2.37 xG for the penalties). For NP xG only Kyogo would be ahead of him.

His xG per shot is 0.22 and he has the most chances created from carries (outwith Jota) at 12 chances created from his carries.

Louis Moult is back at the club and came on last week as a sub up front and Connor Shields was played as a forward when Motherwell played 3 up front. 19 year old forward Robert Mahon has been on the bench.

Motherwell are playing well at the moment under their new Manager Stevie Hammell and the graph below shows their 6 game rolling xPts which has hit a peak in the last 6 games.

They have had 3 penalties so far this season.

In the league table they are 8th but they are 3rd in the xPts table. (xPts table by @SRFootball_).

The average NP xG for the last 6 games is 1.62 and their average Np xGD for the last 6 games is 0.63. Both these figures are higher than any of their 6 game averages over the last 83 games (that includes this season, last season and the 2020/2021 season).

In fact only 12 times in that 73 games has the rolling 6 game average NP xGD been a positive one.

xGD is in grey in the graph below.

The Motherwell centre backs have some decent numbers for this season however they may find this game a bigger challenge dealing with Kyogo's movement. Celtic will have had time to re-focus and I'm sure they will be determined to start very sharp and blow away the memories of the St Mirren defeat.

Due to the last result I suspect Ange will play as best a team as he can although Ralston may retain his place and Juranovic kept rested ahead of the Leipzig match. Maeda will be needed against Leipzig (if fit) for his energy and work rate so I'd expect either Abada or Haksabanovic to start instead of him versus Motherwell. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Abildgaard get some game time so that he can be called upon if needed in Germany.

My prediction for this game is Kyogo to score two goals and Celtic to win 5-0.

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