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St Mirren v Celtic (Match Preview)

Probabilities for the match are Celtic 77%, St Mirren 7% and 16% for the draw.

Celtic’s last 2 games against St Mirren away have seen Celtic failing to score on both occasions. The only defeat of the season (2-0) earlier this season in September and then a 0-0 draw in December 2021.

  • September 2022 – St Mirren 2 – Celtic 0

    • xG 0.8 – 1.30

  • December 2021 – St Mirren 0 – Celtic 0

    • xG 0.56 – 1.64

In the last game in September St Mirren lined up with;

  • 1 Trevor Carson

  • 23 Ryan Strain, 22 Marcus Fraser, 31 Declan Gallagher, 18 Charles Dunne and 3 Scott Tanser

  • 17 Keanu Baccus, 16 Ethan Erhahon and 6 Mark O’Hara

  • 7 Jonah Ayunga and 10 Curtis Main

In the game in September Strain had the most passes for St Mirren at 24 and striker Main had the most passes received at 16 with 4 coming from the keeper Carson. Carson had 34 long balls in that game.

St Mirren had only 4 shots at goal the whole match but they were at 0.2 xG per shot which is the 3rd highest of any team this season.

The match shop map is below;

Some player stats season to date are;

  • Offord is their best for xG per 90 at 19th with 0.5.

  • St Mirren’s main two forwards Ayunga and Main are on 0.38 and 0.28.

  • For xA Ryan Strain is 27th in the league with 0.18 per 90.

  • Taylor is top of St Mirren’s stats on a number of measures. He’s;

    • 3rd in the league for successful defensive actions per 90 at 13.66

    • won 75% of his aerial duels which is 8th in the league

    • 5th for shots blocked per 90 at 1.21

    • 13th for interceptions per 90 at 6.83

    • 3rd in the league for long passes at 10.47 per 90

Below is the xPts for each St Mirren game this season.

In St Mirren’s last game against St Johnstone they drew 1-1 although St Johnstone were down to 10 men for 45 minutes. St Mirren had 2.29 xPts due to their xG of 1.59 and xGA of 0.39.

They lined up with the following;

  • 1 Trevor Carson

  • 22 Marcus Fraser, 13 Alex Gogic and 18 Charles Dunne

  • 23 Ryan Strain, 11 Greg Kiltie, 8 Ryan Flynn, 6 Mark O’Hara and 16 Thierry Small

  • 10 Curis Main and 9 Tony Watt

2 new signings in that line up. Left wing back Thierry Small who is on loan from Southampton and ex-Celt Tony Watt.

For Celtic Ralston, Welsh, Jenz and Turnbull are players who played in the game there in September who are unlikely to play in this game. Abada probably unlikely too either and he played in that game.

I’d like to see Haksabanovic for Maeda and O’Riley for Mooy. I don’t think Celtic will struggle in this game but if they do Kobayashi coming on as a sub for Starfelt could help Celtic change the dynamics if needed.

St Mirren are a very direct team as can be seen in the below graph from The Analyst.

St Mirren second lowest for passes per sequence and highest for direct speed.

22.2% of their passes are long balls (2nd highest) and 73% of their passes are forward (highest) and they have the second least amount of total passes at 247 per 90 with the lowest accuracy at 72%. Their average possession is 38% which is the lowest in the league and they are lowest for progressive runs per 90.

32% of their games are played in their opponents final third and that’s the 3rd highest behind Celtic and Rangers again this shows their directness.

Crosses is therefore a key tactic for their creativity and they have the 4th most crosses per 90 at 17 but those crosses are not into the 6 yard box. Only 10% of their crosses are into the 6 yard box which is the 2nd lowest just ahead of St Johnstone on 9.8%. As a result 22.4% of their shots are headers and that is the highest in the league. Although surprisingly at 42.9% their aerial success rate is the 2nd lowest. Maybe they are just looking for the 2nd balls these aerial duels create.

They also don’t have a high PPDA and at 12.03 it is the 4th lowest. Possession won in the final 3rd is 3.4 per game which is 3rd lowest. However they do have the 2nd most fouls per 90 at 12.

St Mirren are 7th for xG and 5th for xG from set plays and they are 5th in the league (although 7th for xPts). They are on the same points as Hibernian in 4th and just 5 points behind Hearts in 3rd so this will be a difficult game for Celtic. Especially given the way they played against Celtic in that game in September.

However that defeat will have Celtic ultra focussed for this one and I expect Celtic to continue their momentum to achieve a record breaking points total of 109.

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