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Match Preview (Celtic v Hibernian)

Hibs are currently 5th in the SPFL on 29pts and 2pts behind Motherwell in 4th however with Shaun Maloney now in charge and with some new signings in January I would expect a climb up the table in the second half of the year.

Hibs have signed centre forward Elias Hoff Melkersen from our Europa Conference Opponents Bodo/Glimt, right winger Chris Mueller from Orlando in the MLS, centre back Rocky Bushiri from Norwich, right back Harry Clarke from Arsenal Under 23's and Ewan Henderson from ourselves (on loan till the end of the season then a permanent deal afterwards).

Melkersen was on loan from Bodo/Glimt to Ranheim for the season just ended and he scored an impressive 18 goals from 27 appearances although it was the 2nd tier in Norway.

Mueller played right wing in a 4231 formation for Orlando City last season and had 30 appearances for them. 19 starts and 11 substitute appearances scoring 3 goals and having 6 assists. He averaged 0.18 xG and 0.19 xA per 90 minutes last season and there was a positive variance of +0.87 goals per 90 minutes to how Orlando performed when he was on the pitch to when he was off the pitch. In total he has played 100 games for Orlando City over the last 5 years.

Bushiri is on loan from Norwich and he was on loan in Belgium last season with KV Mechelen and then Eupen but he didn't get much game time with a total of 7 appearances. He has played for Belgium Under 21's is 6'1" and has a reputation of being good on the ball.

Clarke was on loan to Ross County for the first half of this season and played 17 matches for them. Against us in Dingwall he won both his defensive aerial duels and he won 1 of his 2 offensive aerial duels.

Their NP xG graph for last season and this season is below.

When we faced Hibs at Easter Road they had a lowly 6 game average xG of 0.69 which was their lowest over the last couple of seasons at that point. It is now at 1.34.

Their xGD at that time was a minus of 0.45. It is now at +0.38. A positive swing of 0.83.

Hibs have conceded 22 goals this season so far which is more than their xGA of 20.5. A Post Shot xGA of 23.33 may possibly indicate that they have been on the end of some good (or lucky) shooting from opponents. That 13.8% variance in PS xGA to xGA is the highest of any team in the league with the next highest being 4.78%.

Hibs have the 4th best NP xGD in the SPFL behind Celtic, Rangers and then Aberdeen. Hibs are averaging +0.16 xGD per game.

It is good to note that Hibs are the worst in the league for Set Play xG at only 0.19 per game.

In regards to team success when on and off the park Ryan Porteous has the biggest positive variance this season at +2.41 goals when playing versus when not with Joe Newell having the biggest negative variance at -1.41.

It will be good to see Celtic's new signings and some fit again players as well and the predicted line up is a bit of a stab in the dark but I'm going for;

- Hart

- Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt and Taylor

- McGregor

- Rogic and Hatate

- Forrest, Maeda and Jota

I'm looking forward to Celtic coming out of the blocks quickly and it will be no surprise to hear that Celtic have produced 54% of their average match NP xG in the first half of matches this season.

Hibs line up is hard to predict due to their new signings but to give an indication of how Maloney may line up his team here is the average positions for Hibs in their last match versus Dundee Utd away.

They lined up;

- 1 Macey

- 5 Porteous, 4 Hanlon and 16 Stevenson

- 27 Cadden, 22 Doyle-Hayes, 32 Campbell and 3 Doig

- 8 Wright

- 10 Boyle and 15 Nisbet

With Doidge, McGregor and Murphy coming on for Nisbet, Doig and Wright during the game.

Match probabilities are;

- Celtic 71%

- Hibernian 9%

- a draw 20%

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