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The battle of the Forrest brothers

Celtic v Livingston (Preview)

Probable line up for Livingston;

- 4-2-3-1

- 1 McCrorie

- 2 Devlin, 5 Fitzwater, 27 Guthrie & 23 Longridge

- 6 Bartley & 18 Holt

- 10 Sibbald, 8 Pittman & 11 Forrest

- 9 Emmanuel-Thomas

- Possibly subs to be used 25 Ambrose (Centre Back), 12 Serrano (Left Back), 33 Lawson (Defensive Midfielder), 14 Mullin (Attacking Midfielder) & 15 Poplatnik (Forward)

Livingston have played the above line up in their last 3 games.

Below are the average positions from their last 2 league games. You can see from both that Right Back Devlin is usually further advanced that the left back and that Allan Forrest (Jamesie's brother) is the most advanced midfielder on the left. In their last league game 47% of their attacks came down the left (32% from the right) with 17% of their shots coming from the left (8% from the right). Forrest had the most key passes (3) of either Livingston or Hibs players in their last league game. In the game before versus Hamilton despite the average positions being similar there was more of a balance with the attacks being 36% left and 32% right and the shots being 11% left and 11% right.

Livingston are a high pressing team who are very direct when they get the ball and that is reflected in the fact their NP xG and goals are highly influenced by Turnovers. (Chances created from winning the ball in the opposition half and then having a shot with less than 4 passes beforehand). They have an NP xG from Turnovers of 5.8 for the season which is 3rd behind ourselves and Rangers. But the 5.8 is 16.4% of their total NP xG which is the top in the SPFL well ahead of 11.4% for 2nd. This NP xG from Turnovers has also been turned into goals as well with 8 of their goals coming from Turnovers (so the 8 outperforming the expected 5.8 meaning they are executing those plays well). 8 goals from Turnovers is 3rd best behind ourselves and Rangers again but as per NP xG we have scored a lot more goals than Livingston. NP xG details courtesy of @ModernFitba

This style of play has given them good results this season however not necessarily against ourselves or Rangers. They did get 2 draws against us but this was more to do with us dealing with the post Dubai issues as opposed to their style impacting us. Their style has probably not been successful against us and Rangers due to our defenders maybe being more comfortable on the ball and not being affected by the high press from Livingston.

The other impact of high pressing teams is sustainability. It takes a lot of effort and teams do tend to find it difficult to sustain it over a long period of time.

Below is a 6 rolling game average of Livingston's NP xG (black) and NP xGA (red) and you can see the changes from their excellent period just before Christmas to more recent times. With this in mind I would expect a far more easier game for us tomorrow.

For this preview I've also included below some headline stats from our previous 3 games against Livingston.

19th September

16th January

20th January

An interesting observation is that Livingston had their most touches in each game (90, 90 and 99) in the 75-90 minute spell.

For the above 3 games combined our NP xG is 1.65 with Livingston's at 0.74 so a differential of 0.91.

Probable line up for Celtic;

- 4-2-3-1

- Bain

- Kenny, Welsh, Ajer & Laxalt

- Brown & McGregor

- Forrest, Turnbull & Elyounoussi

- Edouard

- This would be our 42nd difference starting 11 from 48 games.

I think there is a chance Kennedy will revert to our 4231. There has been glimpses of this during games and while it has been hard to tell what formation we have been playing I believe it has been the 442 Diamond but with a bit of flexibility in there. However we did end the game against Falkirk playing 4231.

With James Forrest back in the team (and our most effective player versus Falkirk) I can see us changing to 4231 to maximise the benefit Forrest brings to the team. I don’t think he’ll pick Soro as he’ll have the Ibrox game in mind and preparing for this with this team selection. One position that I think is up for grabs and I think this will be a surprise for many fans … but I think Turnbull’s position isn’t guaranteed. Rogic was effective versus Falkirk but I believe he’ll still miss out. However Christie could possibly get the nod before Turnbull. I’m going to finalise my team based on Turnbull getting the nod but I don’t think it is a certainty.

With Livingston predominately playing on their left hand side and us seeing James Forrest as the most creative player in our last game then it is set up nicely for a battle on Livingston's left and our right ...... between the Forrest brothers.

My prediction is a comfortable win for us. However a comfortable win is not like our previous comfortable wins due to our ineffective finishing so I'm going for a 2-0 win with James Forrest scoring first just before half time and Elyounoussi scoring in the 2nd half.

Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️

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