Probabilities for the match are Celtic 82%, Dundee Utd 5% and 13% for the draw.
Stats from the four Dundee Utd v Celtic encounters from last season below;
Home (Sep) – Celtic drew 1-1 (NPxG 3.74/0.95). Possession 63%
Away (Dec) – Celtic won 3-0 (NPxG 3.96/0.23). Possession 71%
Home (Jan) – Celtic won 1-0 (NPxG 3.5/0.58). Possession 76%
Away (May) – Celtic drew 1-1 (NPxG 1.63/0.81). Possession 71%
Celtic having xPts of 3, 3, 2.8 and 2 for the four games and Celtic’s attacks were not always down the left like they normally are with it being 34%, 38%, 38% and 33% down the left.
Against Dundee Utd last season Celtic had 10.8 expected points, 8 actual points, 12.83 expected goals, 6 actual goals, 2.57 expected goals against and 2 actual goals against.
Dundee Utd lined up against St Mirren with the following players;
13 Carljohan Eriksson
2 Liam Smith, 12 Ryan Edwards, 4 Charlie Mulgrew and 16 Aziz Behich
23 Ian Harkes, 19 Dylan Levitt and 18 Jamie McGrath
15 Glenn Middleton, 9 Steven Fletcher and 32 Tony Watt
The team included 5 new signings this summer, Behich signed from Turkey, ex-St Mirren player McGrath signed from Wigan, Middleton signed from Rangers, Fletcher signed from Stoke and Levitt signed from Man Utd after being on loan last season.
Also used this season have been;
In goals Mark Birighitti (signed from the A league in the summer)
Centre back Ross Graham and left back Scott McMann
Central midfielder Craig Sibbald (signed from Livingston this summer) and left midfielder Ilmari Niskanen
18 year old right winger from Ghana Mathew Cudjoe and striker Nicky Clark
Unused subs this season have been;
Right back Kieran Freeman
Central midfielder Archie Meekison
Left winger Logan Chalmers, right winger Kai Fotheringham and striker Rory MacLeod
From last season’s most used 11 players Siegrist, Pawlett and Freeman have not played this seson. Siegrist is obviously now at Celtic now. Pawlett is out injured and Kieran Freeman hasn’t been used.
Levitt looks a class act and last season he had 1.48 points per match which is the most out of their most used 11. The average was 1.26. Dundee Utd had a goal difference of 0.78 more were Levitt was on the pitch to when he wasn’t which is the most of any Dundee Utd player in that starting 11.
Levitt had an average of 0.13 per 90 for xA last season and his Post Shot xG was 67% more than his xG possibly indicating good finishing although from a low sample. He had an average of 50 passes per match at 80.5%.
Pawlett had an average xA per 90 of 0.16 with Tony Watt on 0.22. Watt’s xG per 90 was 0.13. Watt had an xG per 90 of 0.22 for his spell at Motherwell earlier last season.
Fletcher is 5th best in the SPFL for xG per 90 this season on 0.52 while Harkes is 24th (Dundee Utd’s best) for xA per 90 on 0.18.
Personally I don’t think this is an ideal time to face Dundee Utd. They are far better than their current form and are due a turnaround. Maybe a no lose type of game against Celtic is ideal for them and they can turn in a performance like they did against AZ Alkmaar in the first leg when they won 1-0. They will hope this game can come at a time when Celtic heads are turned towards Europe after the Champions League draw.
Since that win against AZ Alkmaar they have lost four on the bounce with an aggregate scoreline of 15-1.
The good thing for Celtic is that Ange has the professionalism in the camp to avoid distractions and the team are playing consistently well and winning every game relatively comfortably even though there is far more to come.
I expect Dundee Utd to have some dominant spells in the match (either the first 15 mins or the first 15 mins after half time) and catch us a little but overall we will have just too much for them.