On a beautiful evening upon a perfect and voluminous playing surface, Celtic edged closer to the invincible domestic season with a 5-0 demolition of a Partick Thistle side who have done wonders to make the top 6, but appeared to have the sun screen on.
Celtic started well, creating 6 shooting opportunities before Roberts lured Booth into a rash challenge in the box. They were 2-0 by the 38th minute when Lindsay had Partick’s only clear chance of the game. Roberts thundered in a left foot drive by half time to render the second half a training exercise. Celtic reanimated when Sinclair came on and were almost able to score at will.
Partick played a deep defence in the first half, but the midfield did not fall back deep to make the spaces difficult for Celtic to find. With Roberts, Forrest, McGregor, Griffiths and Rogic wandering to find space rather than keeping to tactical positions, Celtic played through the lines repeatedly in the 1st half. Partick neither pressed high nor dropped deep in midfield, allowing Celtic to find players in the attacking third and maintain momentum. Indicators of the passivity of the Partick efforts:
- Celtic completed 101 more passes that in the 4-1 win in December (725)
- This is 46 more completed passes than any other league away game this season for Celtic
- 93% pass completion matches Celtic’s best league completion of the season – both times at home to Kilmarnock
- 13 shots on target is the most Celtic have had in any league game this season
- Only in the 4-1 win away at Partick in December have Celtic managed to create more than the 65% of attempted chances executed here
- Partick allowed Celtic 11 completed take on which is the most in any league game apart from the 12 completed in the 6-1 home win vs Kilmarnock
- 6 fouls in the least Celtic have conceded in any league game this season
- 17 interceptions are the least Celtic have managed in the league this season (or needed in this case)
- the 29 challenges Celtic lost is the joint lowest of any league game this season (2-0 H vs Ross County)
- 86% PEI is the 2nd highest Celtic have achieved this season (3-1 H Kilmarnock 87%)
- 3 shots total from Partick is the joint lowest any team has managed this season in the league (5th time)
- Partick hold the record for the lowest number of interceptions against Celtic in the 4-1 game at 23 – they managed 29 here. Clearly not a team that anticipates well or presses aggressively.
- Finally, Rogic completed 30 passes and gave none away, had 5 shots, 4 on target and 1 goal – 100% passing for the Number 10 who should be constantly under pressure from the defensive midfielders (Osman and Barton). Happy holidays guys!
Celtic found players in space between the lines through excellent movement and accurate passing, but aided by ineffective Partick defensive organisation. Having achieved a top 6 finish, their players may already be dreaming of Zakynthos!
Expected Goals (xG)
In general Celtic have massively over achieved as regards finishing chances versus their expected goals – that is – the total number of goals based on probability from the shots on target they have had, is a lot lower than the number of goals actually scored. Over the league season Celtic’s on target shots should (according to my very simple xG model) have yielded 76.49 goals – Celtic have scored 104.
It is of course a guide, but over a large population of data should expect to regress to the mean. In this match, Celtic’s xG was 4.46 so scoring 5 was no great surprise. However Celtic scored from 2 relatively low probability shots – simplistically a shot from outside the box is converted about 3% of the time, and Roberts scored 2 of them (his xG was 0.64)! Conversely, Rogic’s 4 shots on target should have yielded 1.73 goals instead of the 1 he scored. Small samples and all that.
PS Celtic’s expected goals against this season in the league is 27.11 and they have conceded 25.
It was no surprise that the Sky TV coverage and Scottish press post mortems majored on Leigh Griffiths questioning attitude towards Rodgers on being substituted after 63 minutes. Griffiths was having a fairly typical Griffiths game – not many touches but very few of them dull.
Griffiths averages only 17.47 completed passes per 90m and completes only 69.27% of passes, easily the lowest in the squad. Not a man for the square 5-yard pass. But that is his role – to take risks and create chances. With 1 goal, 1 assist and 2 key passes (passes that result in shots), as well as creating 2 clear chances, Griffiths delivers bang for his relatively sparse 30 possession events. No one can touch his 1.54 scoring contributions per 90m (i.e. sum of goals and assists per 90m).
Although clearly disappointed to be taken off, in the 2nd half he had contributed 1 pass – the kick off, plus a shot off target – typical Leigh. More importantly, he is the only fit senior striker and Rodgers is surely correct to protect the senior players with the Scottish Cup final in mind.
A little tension is a good thing, especially when winning week on week, to keep the hunger and desire. The manager handled is expertly in the end, but let’s see what happens if Dembele is approaching full fitness.
The Celtic custodian completed 52 passes and gave 3 away – this is his highest number of completed passes of the season by 9. The two times Gordon completed 43 passes was against – Partick Thistle! Certain teams press Gordon and stop him playing out from the back like Hamilton and Aberdeen. In both cases, those sides are more successful in limiting Celtic possession whilst remaining vulnerable to the counter attack. Partick let him play out from the back with impunity – I’ll let their manager assess the success of this.
In this match, the only danger to Gordon was himself as boredom seemed to creep in as he went all Steve Davis (the snooker player) working out interesting angles to fire passes at team mates. Consequently, he picked up 2 defensive errors for putting the team under pressure from wayward passes. This was only the 3rd time this season he had committed 2 defensive errors on one game – the others being at home v Hearts (4-0) and home v Astana (2-1).
Bhoy of the Match