Hearts v Celtic (Review)

Hearts 2

xG 1.20 (Mackay-Steven 8, Souttar 89) Celtic 1

xG 1.29 (Ralston 54) Before kick off our probabilities of winning the game were 55.5% (a defeat 23.6% and draw 20.9%).


The team line up was;

- Bain

- Ralston, Bitton, Starfelt and Taylor

- Turnbull, Soro and McGregor

- Abada, Edouard and Forrest


Subs used were Christie, Furuhashi and Rogic. Welsh, Murray and Christie dropped out of the starting line up.


Each player's average position for the match is shown on the image opposite.


Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furuhashi both made their debuts with Furuhashi doing so from the bench with 11 minutes to go.


It was a slight surprise to see Forrest wide left and it was also a surprise to see Starfelt as the left centre back. Some thought it odd that Bitton was picked ahead of Welsh. The formation changed at times during the game from a 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 and even at times to a 4-4-2 with Turnbull and Edouard the 2 up front.


Hearts lined up with a 3-4-3 as predicted in the match preview (with Beningime in for Haring) but they changed it to a 3-5-2 after 68 minutes when Haring came on. When defending the back 3 became a back 5.


Carl Starfelt was heavily involved in the game with 111 accurate passes and 139 touches. 139 touches is more than any player had in a league game last season. Starfelt's contribution to the team's overall accurate passes was 19% which is the most any player or any position has contributed this season. The next best was the left centre back position at home to Midtjylland where Bitton and Murray combined contributed 17%.


Starfelt's pass accuracy was 93%. Top for pass accuracy were Abada 100%, Bitton 97% and Turnbull 94%. Bain also had 93%.

Top rated player by stats sites was Ralston with a rating of 7.96 (Fotmob) and 8.1 (Whoscored) and this followed his good performance during the week versus Midtjylland. He had 4 tackles won out of 4 attempted, he had 3 successful dribbles, he blocked a shot, had 8 crosses and he had 1 key pass for Abada on 19 minutes.

McGregor had the 2nd lowest pass accuracy at 81% and he lost the ball for Hearts first goal on 8 minutes. Initially it was good pressing by Forrest and McGregor to win the ball back but McGregor then lost the ball to Souttar. His tracking back afterwards was not great and neither was Turnbull's who let Halliday get well away from him. This reminded me of an article I wrote on our April Cup game against Rangers (https://www.celtictrends.com/post/rangers-v-celtic-review) where McGregor and Turnbull did not track back fast enough for Rangers first goal on 9 minutes.
















Both these goals were within the first 10 minutes and we have 2 midfielders badly out ran by the opposition. McGregor only contributed 8% to the team's total accurate passes and this was down from his previous 12% in both Midtjylland games.


In hindsight I think Ange made a mistake in not playing Christie from the start in midfield.

Looking at the match trends in 15 minute segments then our best spell was just after half time when we had 81% possession and 94% passing accuracy. Our worst spell was just after that in 60 to 75 minutes with only 58% possession, 90 touches and 84% passing accuracy. Was this nervousness after scoring? Our players look unfit but I'm not sure this is a physical thing and I'm guessing it may be a psychological issue. We seem to lose confidence when we concede a goal and we seem to get nervous when we score a goal. Do the players believe they are going to win the game?


Overall our passing accuracy was 91% which when combined with all last season's away games was joint top with our 0-0 away game to Hibs on the last day of the season. It was well above our average of 84% for away games last season.


Other positives to take away from the game were accurate passes, touches and possession which all would be in top quarter of away games if included with last season's games. The 74% possession was also only bettered by our away game to St Mirren at the start of the season (77%). These were all better than our average for away games last year and also better than the average were box touches and shots at goal.


However despite possession and passing being better we were below average for overall possession being in Hearts final 3rd, amount of passes we had in the final 3rd, xG, xGA, xG per shot and also the opposition's pass %.


We had 19 shots at goal which was good but with an average xG per shot of 0.068 this explains why our overall xG was only 1.29 and that lack of chance creation was our achilles heel again. We also allowed Hearts to have an xG of 1.2 which is higher than our average for away games last season at 0.94. (Please note the xG being used here is actually NP xG).


When we were having those low xG shots there was no players on their toes looking for any rebounds or 2nd balls etc. Even if Edouard stays he is not a typical penalty box striker and that's what we need in games like the one on Saturday with teams defending their boxes very deep with loads of numbers. If Ajeti is not deemed good enough by the management team then we need a better Ajeti.


Forrest's shot in injury time was our best chance with the shot having an xG of 0.4.


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