Probabilities for the match are Celtic 78%, Kilmarnock 6% and 16% for the draw and following a 73% and 70% probabilities games for Celtic then this is Celtic’s easiest match of the season so far. On paper! (not on plastic)
Kilmarnock won the Championship last year with 67 points pipping Arbroath to the title by 2 points.
Kilmarnock beat Fraserburgh (a), Montrose (a) and Stenhousemuir (h) in their early League Cup round matches and lost at home to Partick Thistle in the other League Cup group fixture. The came 2nd in their group to Partick Thistle.
In the league they have drawn at home to 10 man Dundee Utd 1-1 and they lost 2-0 to Rangers at Ibrox.
Out of last season’s most played 11 players Euan Murray, Brandon Haunstrup and Stephen McGinn have left.
Kilmanock have signed midfielder Kerr McInroy from Celtic, central midfielder Liam Donnelly from Motherwell, goalkeeper Gary Woods from Aberdeen, centre back Joe Wright from Doncaster and central midfielder Alan Power back to the club from St Mirren.
They also have signed on loan centre back Lewis Mayo from Rangers, left winger ex-Rangers Jordan Jones from Wigan, right back Ryan Alebiosu from Arsenal and just last week centre back Jeriel Dorsett from Reading.
Against Celtic the team is likely to be, in a 3-4-3 formation, is;
· 20 Sam Walker
· 5 Ash Taylor, 3 Jeriel Dorsett and 19 Joe Wright
· 25 Ryan Alebiosu, 4 Alan Power, 22 Liam Donnelly and 15 Fraser Murray
· 7 Rory McKenzie, 28 Kyle Lafferty and 9 Oli Shaw
with only Fraser, McKenzie and Shaw playing from last season’s most played 11.
Although the front three will be more defensive than a usual front three.
The above team is the one Kilmarnock used against Rangers at Ibrox last week and they are likely to use the same team and tactics against Celtic. The team against Rangers had 3 changes to it from the game against Dundee Utd with Dorsett coming in for 21 Mayo, Donnelly in for 31 Liam Polworth and Murray in for 21 McInroy.
Other players used so far this season (as subs) have been forward Innes Cameron and midfielder Danny Armstrong.
Unused subs have been goalkeeper Gary Woods, defenders Jack Sanders and Calum Waters, right back ex-Rangers Lee Hodson and midfielders David Watson and Brad Lyons.
Out injured at the moment are goalkeeper Zachary Hemming, defender Chris Stokes, midfielder Blair Alston and forward Scott Robinson.
Average player positions for both league games are opposite.
Versus Rangers (6th August)
Versus Dundee Utd (31st July).
Against Dundee Utd they were the better team even though they could only scrape a point in the last minute.
However Dundee Utd were down to 10 men for 18 minutes. They had 2.04 expected points against Dundee Utd from an xG of 1.24 and xGA of 0.58. 33% of their xG come from set plays and 58% of the xG coming in the first half.
They had 18 shots versus Dundee Utd but they weren’t the best of chances at a xG per shot of 0.069 and their Post Shot xG was only 0.63. They had 52% possession and they had 40 accurate long balls and that is the most any team has had this season so far.
Best for xG against Dundee Utd were Oli Shaw 0.38, Liam Polworth 0.26 and Joe Wright 0.22 and best for xA were Polworth 0.24 and Kerr McInroy 0.20. Ash Taylor scoring from a 7% chance.
Lewis May had the most passes at 38 and Liam Polworth had the best passing accuracy at 90%.
Against Rangers they had only 0.2 expected points from xG 0.37 and xGA of 1.77 and again most of their xG came from set plays with (54%).
When Kilmarnock Manager Derek McInnes was at Aberdeen they were a possession dominant team (3rd best behind Celtic and Rangers) averaging 51% (2020/2021) but had the lowest possession in their opponents final third at 27%. A slow and deliberate build up team who had very little xG created from counter attacks and turnovers. Their xG from counter attacks was the lowest in the league at 6.2 and their xG from turnovers was 4.1 which was 8.9% of their total (3rd lowest).
So no threat from transitions, low xG per shot against a Celtic side who restrict opponents even further on their xG per shot therefore this should be a comfortable win for Celtic. Even though it is on plastic!
My prediction is that Celtic will score 5 goals away from home for the first time since September 2020 and they will also keep a clean sheet.
3 bets for me this weekend Celtic to win 5-0 18/1, 6-0 35/1 and 7-0 66/1.
*xPts taken from @SRFootball_, xG taken from FotMob and counter attack xG taken from ModernFitba
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