St Mirren v Celtic (Match Stats)
St Mirren 2
(O'Hara 43 and Ayunga 53)
St Mirren only had 4 shots at goal in this game however they had an xG per shot of 0.2 which is the highest xG per shot of any team in any game this season.
St Mirren's Post Shot xG was 1.27 and that was just from their two goals as their other two shots were off target.
In contrast Celtic had 19 shots and an average xG per shot of 0.057 which is not only their lowest of the season by far it is less than half of their season average of 0.129. That 0.057 is the joint 2nd lowest in Ange's tenure with the other joint 2nd lowest being that Livingston game a year ago minus a day and the lowest is St Mirren away in December in a 0-0 draw. Celtic's Post Shot xG of 0.51 was the 2nd lowest for Ange's Celtic with the 0-0 draw at home to Livingston the only one lower.
Outwith the Rangers game in May Celtic's 1.03 xG is the lowest for them since that game against Livingston (away) a year ago when it was 0.91. Callum McGregor didn't play in that game and the fact he didn't play in the No.6 position in this game probably highlights how key he is in that role for Celtic. He also didn't play in the No.6 position when Celtic drew 0-0 to St Mirren in December.
There was some talk that St Mirren would be a threat with their height but their line up was the 7th tallest out of the 12 line ups this weekend and they are 11th for Set Play xG this season. However Curtis Main is the 4th best forward in the league for amount of aerials won (with 20) behind Steven Fletcher, Kyle Lafferty and Jordan White. Main won 7 aerials in this game out of 13 attempted.
I mentioned in the match preview that Carson was averaging 30.5 long balls per game and that this was the third most of any player in the league and he surpassed that with 34 long balls in this game.
Celtic have three players in the top five for expected assists (xA) this season. O'Riley 3.2 (1st), Jota 3.1 (2nd) and Juranovic 1.6 (5th) and all three of them were out of the team today. So in hindsight it is not a total shock that Celtic had their third lowest xG under Ange in this game.
Many have (with hindsight) complained about the rotation in this game and that is an easy bandwagon to jump on. However if Ange didn't make changes and dropped points many would ask how did he not freshen up a team that gave a lot away from home in Europe during the week. Also if Celtic won today there wouldn't be any complaints about the rotation.
The rotation wasn't an issue for me (as squad players do need games) it was more the team selection. If you are going to play Mooy then have the energetic Hatate beside him. If you are going to play Turnbull have the quick passing McGregor beside him. If you are going to play Ralston play Giakoumakis to gain from Ralston's crossing.
Celtic forwards (including wide forwards) are all different with their different qualities and limitations. Maeda and Abada both have qualities but are not the greatest for creating opportunities through 1v1s. Maeda is not ideal playing against a low block and to a lesser extent neither is Kyogo. You could make a case for either Maeda, Kyogo or Abada individually to still be included versus a low block defensive team but I didn't see the benefit of playing all three of them.
I was happy enough (pre-game) for Jota to be rested but I would then have brought in Haksabanovic. I also thought this was definitely a game for Giakoumakis to start. His omission was the biggest surprise for me and even more so when there were six changes.
The accurate passes 15 minute trendline shows Celtic didn't get any more passes during the game even when the subs came on.
Celtic only had 271 final third passes which is well down from the 427 in the corresponding fixture in December.
In terms of xG trendline then you can see all St Mirren's chances came within that 20 minute period in the middle of the game between 43 and 63 minutes.
The 0.8 xG for St Mirren was the most they have had against Celtic in the last four games and the xGD of 0.23 was the lowest in those four games too.
Only 34% of the game was played in St Mirren's defensive third and that is well down from the 54% in December.
St Mirren forced Celtic wide with 81% of attacks coming down the wings.
Celtic have done well this season at limiting xG from Set Plays and the average before this game was 0.13 and St Mirren's 0.53 was the fifth highest xG from Set Plays conceded by Ange's Celtic.
In my match preview I did mention how right wing back Ryan Strain had created the most expected goals for St Mirren this season averaging 0.15 xA per game and it was Strain that set up O'Hara's goal in the first half.
Looking at the average player positions map Maeda's average position doesn't look advanced enough and while it is expected in an Ange team that the forwards track back I don't think this game necessarily required them to do this as much.
Maeda only had 3 touches within 18 yards of the St Mirren goal. He had 27 touches in total.
Looking also at Jota's and Haksabanovic's touch maps they probably tracked back too much for my liking and staying a bit further forward to stretch St Mirren and allow quicker and more direct attacks would have been more preferable.
Jota (below left) had only 7 touches within 18 yards and Haksabanovic (below right) had 6.
The positives from this game though were that Ange had the conviction and the awareness to make two substitutions at half time and similarly to make another two and change the formation (to include two forwards) after 57 minutes.
He then changed formation a further time (going 3 at the back) with 15 minutes to go so hopefully he will have learned from the mistakes in this game.
Another positive is that he did take responsibility for team selection in his after match comments and at least he will have some time on the training ground to rectify things before the next league game on 1st October.
So we can all make assumptions on the reason for the defeat, like too many changes, the wrong selections etc etc but I just hope there isn't any more to it as the players just looked off it today, lacking in energy and urgency.
It may well just be the natural adjustment of playing after a challenging Champions League game as history tells us this can always be difficult.
Or maybe Celtic's slick passing was impacted by the players having to take a second glance at team mates due to the ridiculous kit clash.
Who knows what the issue was in this game and Ange will want to show that it was just a one off blip that the team can learn from. Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️