We recently reviewed where Celtic compare as regards defensive performances versus last season’s treble-winning form under Ange Postecoglou.

Using StatsBomb’s team-level data we can now turn our attention to the attacking performances. Celtic are averaging 2.41 goals per game compared to 2.64 last season. As we know this bald fact hides a lot of subtly in actual performance.


Note xG is this view is non-penalty xG, which is higher than last season.

The headline is like the defensive analysis in that the quality of chances Celtic are creating is reduced on average from last season. Important context: both StatsBomb and Opta have Celtic as creating the best quality chances in the league. Albeit that is a rising trend and hasn’t been true all season.

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The impact of a 0.01 reduction in average shot quality for Celtic is approximately 8.2 goals less per season. What is driving this is likely the quality deficit especially in the wide areas but also central midfield.

Last season, Celtic had high-volume Jota on the wing and significant minutes from a high number-generating Liel Abada. Also, Daizen Maeda went through a post-World Cup form explosion. This season, Luis Palma has taken time to settle. And Hyun-Jun Yang, Michael Johnston and James Forrest are arguably a retrograde quality compared to the 2022-23 season.

The midfield was settled with steady output from Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate and Aaron Mooy. This term, Celtic struggled until the last four matches to establish a regular and productive partner to O’Riley and Callum McGregor.

Finally, Celtic have upped their level of both longer passes attempting to get Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi in behind defences early, and the nature of their crosses. Celtic this term average 47 long balls compared to 42 last season. The number of crosses attempted has risen from 23 to 27. Both modes of attack – long early passes and more crosses, are not necessarily conducive to higher chance quality. The greater the length of a pass, the greater the difficulty.

Last season was noticeable for how Celtic worked the ball around the box before waiting for a chance to put in a low hard cutback or pass across the six-yard box. This season there seems to be a greater reliance on simply 'putting the ball in the mixer', which is less precise and leads to more awkward chances where the ball is in the air.

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Despite all this, Celtic are generating a higher volume of counter-attacking shots, higher xG from set pieces, more shots from high press scenarios, and more clear shots (shots with fewer opponents in the way). Celtic are generating significantly more shots – up 17 per cent. And as the season has progressed, the proportion of those shots taken inside the opponent’s box has levelled off to match last season’s 67 per cent.

As with the defence and the need to have a stable consistent centre-back pairing, Celtic needs to find reliability especially in the wide forward areas and in central midfield. Solve that, and the trends are generally of an improving set of attacking performance metrics.