Updated: Mar 3
John Hughes has been in charge of Ross County for 10 matches now and has had 3 wins, 1 draw and 6 defeats. The wins coming against Hibs (away), Aberdeen (home) and Hamilton (away). Conceding 19 goals in the process.
Out of all the teams in the league and separating them home and away only Kilmarnock away from home have underperformed Ross County at home.
This should be a Celtic win with no excuses. Given the performance in the first 15 mins / first half versus Aberdeen then that should at least be replicated and deliver a few goals more in this game.
I predicted 5 goals versus Aberdeen and was woefully short so maybe I predicted the 5 goals a game too early.
Ross County are likely to line up;
- Naismith, Morris, Watson, Iacovitti and Tremarco
- Andreu, Kelly, Paton and Hylton
Vigurs is suspended and Hjelde is not eligible as Celtic are his parent club.
6% of Ross County's conceded NP xG is from Turnovers and that 6% is the lowest of all SPFL teams meaning they don't concede many chances quickly when losing possession in their own half. If anyone has watched Ross County closely this season it would be interesting to here your views and understand why this is the case.
Ross County have conceded the most penalties this season at 10 so plenty of box touches and getting the ball into the box wouldn't go a miss today.
NP xG conceded in the last 6 games is 1.48 and that includes a 0.44 versus Hamilton.
In regards to our team for tonight there was a big imbalance in the side versus Aberdeen with Kenny having his least amount of touches at 58 (average in previous 4 games was 80.5). He had 98 touches versus Motherwell. A decrease of 39% on touches from one home game to another.
This was down to the inclusion of Christie at the right hand side of the diamond. Something I had called for due to Christie being more defensively minded than Rogic. I obviously didn't anticipate Christie's lack of discipline in the position and lack of width this gave on the right hand side.
16% of Christie's touches (in the 62 mins he played as a No.8) were on the left side, 27% of his touches were central (in between the width of the 6 yard box) and only 57% were on the right hand side. (Christie's 62min touch map opposite). Compared to McGregor's 6% (right), 24% (central) and 70% on the left hand side and you can see why we were a bit imbalanced. For info Rogic's was 5% (left), 35% (central) and 60% (right) in the 28mins he was on.
Also 34% of Kenny's touches came in the 28mins Rogic was at No.8 (31% of the 90mins) despite the fact we had less of the ball in that time and Aberdeen were attacking more.
If it was up to me my team for tonight would be;
- Kenny, Welsh, Ajer and Taylor
- Turnbull, Elyounoussi and Christie
- Ajeti and Edouard
I'd give McGregor a rest both to re-energise him and also to make him realise his place is not guaranteed either. If we can get more from McGregor in future games the team will benefit. He needs dropped/rested even though he is a vital cog in the team. Picking games to drop/rest him should be done wisely and tonight is the perfect game for it. Christie still has decent work rate (to cover McGregor's omission) and although it is a bit of a risk (for defensive reasons) playing Turnbull as the No.8 I think we should be ok to do so against a Ross County side and with the young legs of Soro to support.
This would allow for someone to come into the hole and I'd go for Elyounoussi over Rogic. Elyounoussi could still possibly be here next year (while Rogic won't be) and we need to see more of Elyounoussi to see if it is worth retaining him). Given the fact we all agree we need more from Ajeti and we need to give Ajeti more service then Elyounoussi could be the key to that given there time in Basel together. (Elyounoussi also scored a hat-trick when playing behind Ajeti at Motherwell this season). A point well made on The Cynic's Analysis Live this week (@90MinuteCynic & @CynicAnalysis).
With Turnbull, Elyounoussi and Christie behind a front two of Edouard and Ajeti this could definitely improve our box touches and chances created.
However do I think Neil Lennon would go for the above? Probably not. It's hard to guess who Lennon will pick as you could easily see him bringing Griffiths back in or retaining Ajeti or playing Christie up front etc etc. The one thing I do think Lennon will do is bring Scott Brown back into the starting line.
Prediction - 5-0 Celtic