Updated: Mar 3
St Mirren v Celtic Preview
Can we get our first league win versus a Top 6 club since September?
Our last league win versus a Top 6 club was Home to Hibs in September so that highlights that we can no longer just expect to beat any team like we used to. In fact since the 4th October our record against Top 8 teams is one win, 6 draws and 3 defeats (the win at Home to Dundee Utd on 30th Dec).
It is difficult to predict the team line up that St Mirren will have given that they have used 20 different players over the last 8 games (including 19 different starters) and many different formations from 343 & 361 to 442, 433 and 351.
If pushed I’d go for the following;
- Fraser, Shaughnessy and McCarthy
- Connolly, Doyle-Hayes, Erhahon, McGrath and Durmus
Our opportunity in this game will come from the fact St Mirren are not as good at home as they are away (picking up twice as many wins away as they have had at home this season) and their highest NP xG conceded (courtesy of ModernFitba) is at 29.4% for Build Up plays which suits us.
Our risk is that 34% of their NP xG created is from free kicks and corners and I don’t need to highlight how bad we have been from set pieces this year. On top of that St Mirren have been improving since their narrow defeat in the Betfred Cup Semi Final to in form Livingston. Winning 3 out of 4 and scoring 10 goals with their only defeat coming when they were down to 10 men against a Hibs team that have won 9 times away from home this season.
In regards to our own expected performance back to back wins should surely give the players confidence even if the opposition wasn’t strong. As I mentioned in my post on Celtic Trends (https://www.celtictrends.com/post/442d-46-touches-in-the-box-v-kilmarnock) about Touches in the Opponent’s Box we hit our highest of the season at 46 versus Kilmarnock and we followed that up with 45 versus Motherwell. On top of that we had 301 passes in the final third and 44% of the game was played in Motherwell’s final third (both those stats being season bests for us).
Our back line looks a bit more stable now and managing a clean sheet versus Kilmarnock and if Soro was playing instead of Brown on Saturday we may have had another one. Some last ditch defending by Ajer and Laxalt was needed but last ditch clearances is a step up from the calamity of errors we’ve been used to this season.
Ajeti’s ban appeal was quite rightly successful and this allows us to let him continue with a run of games that surely will see the best of him. I’m very much in favour of playing him every week even if it looks like he isn’t playing well and I’d play him for the full 90mins.
Sometimes forwards can look like they are playing poorly but their movement can go unnoticed and sometimes others play better as a result of playing alongside certain players. In my post on Celtic Trends (https://www.celtictrends.com/post/edouard-plays-better-alongside-ajeti) I highlight how Edouard’s stats are better when playing alongside Ajeti and how Ajeti has the best conversion rate and best shot on target % of our forwards.
I’m hoping that we have 2 changes from the team on Saturday with Soro and Christie back in although I’ve got a nasty feeling Brown may retain his place.
My match prediction is that we will win finally win a Top 6 match and will win 2-1 (2-0 if Brown is not playing) with Ajeti and Edouard getting a goal each.