Earlier on in the season, I wrote about Greg Taylor.

It appeared he was either struggling for form after about eight matches or was not adapting to post-Ange Postecoglou demands from new manager Brendan Rodgers.

Around 20 matches later, Celtic head into the second half of the season with signs the squad is settling to Rodgers’ demands. Taylor - fresh from a stunningly worked goal at St Mirren - appears to be finding his form.

On Ball Value

StatsBomb published a highly useful explainer for OBV. I recommend you watch it. Whilst no model is perfect, it is pushing the thinking forward in attempting to attribute ‘value’ to most on-ball actions. StatsBomb certainly admires Taylor this season.

A 43 per cent increase in his overall OBV has been achieved by increases in passing, defensive action and dribbling and carrying OBVs. Only his shot OBV has regressed. Given this game is one of small margins, those are noticeable shifts. We’ll need to inspect the underlying data to understand this better.


The StatsBomb full-back radar also encompasses the relevant OBV scores.

His defensive actions have decreased, with fewer tackles and interceptions, a slightly lower percentage of aerial duel wins, given up more turnovers, and more fouls committed.

 He is also completing fewer deep progressions, but his pass OBV has increased as has his expected assists value from open play passing. A hint as to how Celtic have changed under Rodgers is that his pressing rate is up significantly. I feel this doesn’t explain the overall picture.

Here are the aggregated metrics I collect for defending – the defensive action success rate (percentage of duels and intercepts that were successful) and the possessions won from defensive actions (the percentage of defensive actions that result in Celtic getting the ball subsequently).

This does not necessarily reflect the volume of defensive activity but the efficiency of it. Taylor is winning more of his duels and securing possession from them on a more regular basis. Opponents continue to target Celtic’s left flank with long deep passes and diagonals, looking to exploit the diminutive Taylor. He is surprisingly spring-like in the air and wins more aerial battles (1.78) than he loses (1.68). The flip side is that often the opposition wins at least a throw and decent field position in the left-back position.

Ball progression

Taylor was deemed successful under Postecoglou as he adapted well to the inverted role. Being a central midfielder as a youth meant he was familiar with playing infield and centrally. It often seemed he was more comfortable playing through balls inside the opposition full-backs than simpler balls up the line to the winger.

A comparison of various ball progression metrics earlier in the season saw a sea of red as regards regression compared to last term’s numbers. Here is the up-to-date picture.

A sea of green improvement, which is what we love to see!

We tag green if the change is greater than ten per cent and red if the decline is greater than ten per cent. Taylor is generating more chances for his teammates, and they are of higher quality as measured by the xA. He is also more involved in build-up, with an increase in both the quantity and quality of secondary assisting passing. Furthermore, he is getting forward to support the attack with a 12 per cent increase in touches in the opposition box.


Here is the range of packing metrics for Taylor.

We tag yellow for any chances that are within ten per cent of the previous season’s values – i.e. broadly unchanged.

Taylor’s packing scores are in line with last season. Given the emphasis on aggressive vertical passing under Postecoglou, that is encouraging on the passing and receiving side.

His pack recovery rate has improved by 16 per cent and overall pack recovery score by 41 per cent. This is a proxy for positional and anticipation attributes – in football parlance ‘being in the right place at the right time’.

His pack turnover data is slightly up which is an overall negative as it means he is giving the ball up more often and more impactfully as regards taking his teammates out of the game, but within the ten per cent threshold.


Taylor’s performances as reflected in the data have taken a huge upswing since earlier in the season.

There will be many reasons for this, and he has just turned 26-years-old. This can be considered “prime” for many footballers. Given the recent recruitment of younger prospects, Taylor will be considered one of the experienced players in the dressing room, and also by this stage, into his fifth season as a Celtic first-team player, one of those imbued with the club expectations and standards.

READ MORE: Maik Nawrocki's Celtic career analysed six months in

Also, there is much misunderstanding about how Rodgers has tweaked Celtic’s approach compared to Postecoglou. Although the build-up is perhaps not as slick and rehearsed, it is no less direct in its intent. Taylor is a player who seems to enjoy a little chaos in the game. He is not afraid to give the ball away and join in the attacks in the penalty area.

His inversion habits have continued, and he continues to manfully take on all comers to Celtic’s besieged left flank. Taylor will always battle power, pace and height constraints. But no one can fault his attitude and desire to improve.

That left-back slot will not be given up lightly.