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Preview (Dundee Utd v Celtic)

Dundee Utd are 4th in the SPFL with 25pts and just 2pts away from third place. However they have only won one game out of their last six games (losing three of those games).

Below is a graph on 6 game rolling average of NP xG and NP xGA including last season and this season so far for Dundee Utd.

What a difference in this year's performances with their NP xGD finally going into a positive. Their NP xG is improving but it's the improvement in reducing their NP xGA that's making the biggest difference. Four games ago their NP xGD was 0.7 but that has reduced now to 0.06. At one stage last season their NP xGD was minus 1.06.

Their NP xG for this season is 1.01 and their NP xGA is 1.06. 0.26 (25%) of their NP xG is from set play and 0.34 (32%) of their NP xGA is from set play.

Dundee Utd's average player positions from their last three league games are opposite.

They have been playing 4 at the back.

- In goals is 1 Benjamin Siegrist

- Right back is 22 Kieran Freeman

- Right centre back is 12 Ryan Edwards

- Left centre back is 4 Charlie Mulgrew

- Left back is 33 Scott McMann

- The back 5 (4 defenders and goalkeeper) have been the same for the last four games in a row.

- 8 Peter Pawlett, 23 Ian Harkes and 7

Ilmari Niskanen have played in midfield in all of the last three league games.

- 21 Declan Glass played in centre midfield in the last game against Motherwell

- 14 Florent Hoti played the last two league games.

- 18 Calum Butcher and 66 Jeando Pourrat Fuchs played in centre midfield in the Aberdeen game

- 27 Louis Appere played up front in the last two games.

- 10 Nicky Clark missed out in the last game but played the two previous games

- Used subs outwith the above players in the last three games have been right winger 30 Darren Watson and left midfielder 3 Adrian Sporle

- Unused subs outwith the above players have been goalkeeper 16 Trevor Carson, centre back 28 Kerr Smith, central midfielder 32 Archie Meekison, 94 Maxime Biamou and right winger 11 Logan Chalmers.

Dundee Utd are averaging a goal difference positive variance of 1.47 per game when Charlie Mulgrew is playing compared to when he is not playing.

Jeando Fuchs has the most points per game at 1.7

Ryan Edwards has the best average rating at 7.26 and he is averaging 4.3 aerial duels won per game.

In their last two league games Dundee United's (which were away from home) attacks have mainly come down the right hand side with 50% and 63% of their attacks coming down that side versus 36% and 23% down the left. In their home game against Aberdeen that was different with it being 39% down the left and 36% down the right.

In their last three games for xG their leading player is Appere on 0.37 with Clark and Harkes next on 0.31 and 0.26. Post Shot xG for those three players is 0.3, 0.04 and 0.38 respectively.

For xA McMann is leading with 0.23 and Hoti is on 0.13.

For shots in the last three games Appere leads the way on 5 with McMann, Mulgrew and Clark all next on 3.

For key passes Clark leads the way on 3 with McMann, Niskanen, Hoti and Pawlett next on 2.

In the first 11 games of the season only once did Dundee Utd's opponents have an NP xGD of more than 0.5 than Dundee Utd and that was Celtic. In 5 of their 11 games they had an NP xGD greater than 0.25 of that of their opponents and that was joint third best alongside Hibs. They were also third in the table for total NP xGD over those 11 games on +0.5.

Their NP xG average per game for those first 11 games was 1.05 however their Post Shot NP xG was 1.23 and that 0.18 positive variance was 2nd best in the league behind Hearts. 40% of their shots were on target so is that telling us Dundee Utd have been very good at finishing or had some positive fortune in their shooting in those first round of matches?

21% of their NP xG came from set plays (in those first 11 games) which was 9th in the league and their Set Play NP xG of 0.22 per game was 10th so it doesn't indicate a big reliance on set play goal creation. That has slightly increased (to 25%) when you include all of their games to date.

Given that they were only 7th in the table for NP xG their success this season has come from defending and they were 3rd in the table (again after 11 games) for NP xGA with only 1.0 conceded per game. Add in a Post Shot NP xGA of 0.54 and poor finishing from opponents or luck added into the positive variance in shooting accuracy/luck mentioned above it is not a massive surprise that their fortunes have changed in the last few games.

They were best in the league for opponents xG per shot at 0.082 so maybe there is good organisation in defending their box and limiting the amount of good quality chances their opponents get.

They were second best for tackles won on 69% but second worst for aerials won 47%.

In the first 11 games they were only losing for 117 minutes which was second best in the league (after Hearts).

For passing they were sixth on 254 accurate passes per game with a 70% accuracy and 19% of them were long balls.

I predicted a 1-0 win versus Hearts and was not far away with my goal time prediction (38 mins) and scorer (Ralston) and I should have said assister.

My prediction for today is 2-0 to Celtic with Kyogo and Johnston the scorers.

Match probabilities are;

- Celtic 69%

- Dundee Utd 10%

- a draw 21%

Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️

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