Updated: Mar 3
St Johnstone v Celtic Preview
We've now finally beaten a top 6 club (our first since September) thanks to a convincing win over St Mirren. But it is still only 2 wins (out of 11 games) versus top 8 opposition since the 4th October.
St Johnstone is arguably a harder game than St Mirren given their recent form.
At the start of the new year @ModernFitba had highlighted that St Johnstone were the main team who were performing better than the results they were getting. They've only had 1 defeat since Boxing Day which was a tightly fought 1-0 defeat at Ibrox. In 4 of their last 6 league games they've had NP xG favourable differentials of 0.93, 0.93, 0.58 and 1.33 with the other 2 games being against Aberdeen (a draw) and Rangers. They also beat Hibs in the Betfred Semi Final during this phase of games.
Their last game was an away win at Livingston and they have been the only team to beat Livingston in 15 matches.
29.1% of St Johnstone's NP xG conceded comes from opponents build up play which is 2nd highest after St Mirren so we could get some joy with our build up play.
In both our games against St Johnstone this season we have had an NP xG differential of over 1. It was 1.69 v 0.66 in the first game and 1.91 v 0.59 in the second game.
St Johnstone are likely to line up in a 433 with the following players;
- Kerr, Gordon and McCart
- Rooney, Craig, McCann and Tanser
- Melamed and Wotherspoon
With O'Halloran, May and Bryson likely to make an appearance from the bench. Davidson is injured after a nasty tackle by Roofe.
The recent positives we can take from our games is the 45 and 46 touches we had in the box versus Kilmarnock and Motherwell (which was our season's bests) and while some stats dropped for the St Mirren game the positive we can take from that game is that Final Third Passes, Passing Accuracy and Possession all increased in 75-90mins which possibly highlighted an improvement in our fitness.
Again I'm hoping that Soro and Christie are changes we make to the team ahead of Brown and Rogic but I actually don't think we will see them. I expect an unchanged team if Welsh is fit.
In both our previous matches this season against St Johnstone we played a 3-5-2. The first game we were drawing 0-0 until 90mins and the second game we drew 1-1. Maybe our new formation may produce a better result.
A 2-0 win for us would require an improvement in recent performances but I'm feeling positive and believe we can get that. Edouard and Ajeti to get one each.