For Celtic to make up a 6-point deficit, where do they need to improve?

There can’t be a single 'golden bullet' answer to this as reality is complex. Having significantly less injuries and allowing new players time to bed in will help, for example.

Whilst certain pundits will lament the defence for clicks and likes here are the facts - Joe Hart and the team have the lowest xG Against in the league (0.64) as well as actual goals against (0.60). There can be improvements for sure. Increased confidence and comfort playing such a high line, and having a back four without 2-3 chances every match will surely help.

Goals vs Expected Goals

But an obvious area for performance improvement is in the other side of the equation - goal scoring. Simply, Celtic are underperforming on league goals scored to a significant degree.

Celtic Way:

Half the league is overperforming their xG and half the league is underperforming.

No one comes close to Celtic, however. They have more than 15 goals less than expected.

In other words, Celtic are leaving 0.8 goals on the field EVERY match.

Is there a problem?

It may be trite to say “shoot more” as we all know by now that shot quality is more important.

And, indeed, Celtic already take more than two shots per game more than their closest rivals (21.8 to 19.7). This is over seven more shots than third-highest Aberdeen.

But what of the quality?

Well, Celtic have the highest xG per shot in the league!

Celtic Way:

The case for the defence is further strengthened by the fact Ange's team create by far the most “Big Chances” per match.

Celtic Way:

So, it’s just dumb bad luck then?

The Prosecution

Not entirely, m’lud.

Despite all the above being positive indicators of attacking efficiency, and if I was being selective in my reporting I could make that case, I am here to provide a rounded perspective (hopefully)!

Firstly, despite having the most and the highest quality shots, Celtic are not first in making the opposition goalkeeper work. In terms of opposition keeping saves, Celtic are second:

Celtic Way:

(St Johnstone are in real trouble, aren’t they?)

Not much in it, but more damning is the team are continuing the malaise of last season whereby too many efforts are from too far out.

This is evidenced in the ratio of shots taken inside the box:

Celtic Way:

This is pretty damning. 37% of Celtic’s shots are outside the box, whilst the rivals from Ibrox are taking only 29%.


In summary, Celtic’s new playing style is creating more big chances than other teams, and resulting in the highest xG per shot in the league.  They need to DO MORE OF creating the sort of chances Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada thrive on – central inside the 6-yard box. Easier said than done, of course.

However, they are still taking too many long, low xG shots outside of this.

Not all players are to “blame” for this.

Celtic Way:

What is noticeable is that most of the strikers and wingers are fully Angeball compliant. The likes of Abada, James Forrest, even “poor decision-maker” Mikey Johnston, and of course the exemplary Furuhashi (92% of shot inside the box!) are taking much less than the team average 37% of shots outside the area.

Where Celtic can improve is with those whose personal average is at or above the team average of 37%.

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And when we look at volume, it is primarily the midfielders – Rogic, McGregor and Turnbull – where we need to see a re-calibration of shot options. Also, when Jota returns, he needs to get his shot selection stats closer to Forrest and Abada.

There is nothing wrong with the occasional long shot, of course, especially if you are as talented as Turnbull.

For the 3-week break, Postecoglou will hopefully be working on the attacking pattens to adjust the balance between long and box taken shots.

A small percentages Celtic winning the league a long shot? improvement could have a big marginal difference, with results in one or two draws being turned into wins.