Over the last few days following the Heralds claim that Forrest is reborn and with Celtic apparently looking at options to extend Roberts’ stay, I looked at Forrest having his best Celtic season and Roberts, dipping from a stellar start to his Celtic career, but showing tremendous potential.
Here is a “quick and dirty” look at the 4 players vying for the 2 wide attacking positions in Celtic’s normal 4-1-4-1 formation. The natural wingers. Hopefully a bit of fun.
From the outset let me state my confirmation bias prior to looking at this: Sinclair would be far above them all and Mackay-Steven would be trailing badly in comparison to the rest.
One of the reasons for starting this blog was to challenge my own perceptions when watching a game with full supporter emotion mode on and to see what the games look like when subjected to cold fact-based analysis.
I have focussed on some key attacking data, as that is their primary role in the team. I accept, as I argued with Forrest, that defensive performance is also important and that may be one of the reasons Forrest is 1st pick in the AM R position.
The following data is for ALL Celtic games for each player for the last 3 seasons.
- A reminder ‘90’ at the end means average number of events per 90 minutes – therefore Sinclair completes 26 passes in 90 minutes, on average.
- ‘%’ means the value is a %!
- Green means highest rated in that category; Amber means rated 2nd or 3rd and Red means rated 4th in that category all compared to each other.
- I then gave each player 4,3,2,1 points for being ranked 1,2,3,4 and summed the totals (RANKING POINTS).
Being Scottish I’ll start with the negatives. His dribble success is significantly worse than the others and he attempts 7 a game. However, this is surely a decision making coaching development opportunity (and we all know Modern Decision Making Coaching Development Opportunities are rubbish!!!).
He completes the most passes per game (33) and at a decent accuracy (81%).
His Chance creation of 1.11 per game is on a different level to the others although his assists of 0.26 per game may reflect that the creator is hostage to fortune vis-à-vis the recipient’s ability to finish. He also manages to create a chance with 49% of attempts at the difficult “final ball”.
He is also the most involved in the game of the 4, averaging 63 possession events. A player of considerable potential.
When I look at my notes on each game, it is surprising the number of occasions where I make a comment like “Sinclair: 20 minutes since last touch”. He drifts out of games for long periods and the evidence is he completes only 26 passes per game, and is involved in only 47 possession events per game. Now, like a thoroughbred sprinter, he may pick his moments well.
Bear in mind Sinclair’s data sample is smaller than the rest, and there may be some small sample anomalies. For example, he achieves the most assists per game (0.3) yet has the lowest chance creation of 0.6 per game. An explanation may be that I am quite generous with assists – Brown rolls it 5 yards backwards to Sviatchenko who runs 40 yards and tonks it in the corner – assist to Brown! Perhaps some of Sinclair’s assists have been of the “last pass” rather than “cut them open” variety?
What we do get with Sinclair is goals. A lot of shots and 15% of them all result in goals. His sheer productivity of 0.82 goals and assists per 90 mins will be difficult to maintain – or will it?
He is relatively inactive on the dribble front, being a player who explodes into space. Also, as the oldest of the group (27), he may also be wiser at making decisions and timing runs to receive the ball without the need to take on a player.
We don’t see much of Sinclair, but when we do, it tends to be productive.
We need more data and I cannot wait to see the end of season numbers for Sinclair.
Perhaps surprisingly Forrest is the steady player of the group in that he has the safest passing (83%) and losses possession the least (PEI of 73%). He also completes more dribbles than Roberts and is successful with them 56% of the time.
He creates chances and has an assist rate commensurate with his peers.
Whilst Forrest’s decision making on passing and dribbling are good, his decision making on shots lags his peers. All shot conversion of 7% is a bit miserable, and 0.2 goals per game lags significantly behind Roberts and Sinclair.
I have not compared defensive performance, but would suspect he’d score highest.
Forrest is perhaps the “safe” pick in terms of overall team contribution.
GMS has 2 major problems –
- he is not involved very much; and
- when he is, he loses possession frequently
His PEI of 64% is lower than all but the strikers at Celtic this season (and strikers will virtually always have a low PEI as they are usually under pressure when receiving the ball, and they generally don’t rack up high passing stats with nice easy 5 yard passes across the defence). The next lowest PEI for non-strikers is 73% for both Rogic (playing under pressure at AM C; always trying to be creative) and Forrest (see above). Nearly 10% lower PEI is significant.
Pass completion of 75% is also very low compared to peers.
On the plus side he has an effective long shot and his shooting is the most accurate and yields a respectable return of 0.26 goals per game.
He is the equal of his peers in assists (0.26 per 90) and his chance creation numbers are equivalent also.
At the risk of becoming a Roberts acolyte, his Celtic numbers albeit based on slightly regressing performance, suggest a player of significant potential AND delivery in the here and now. I hope we keep him as long as is possible.
Sinclair is incredibly productive and may also be incredibly astute in terms of pacing his game. He has completed 90mins 18 out of 27 appearances. Is there more to come and can involve himself more?
Forrest is having his most productive season at Celtic but can continue to improve his shooting technique and decision making on when to shoot. He is a solid team player in this position.
GMS is capable of moments of great skill and productivity, but is failing to be influential in games, and is easily dispossessed or makes poor passing choices. Will it work out for him at Celtic or could he star in a less pressured environment?