One positive from Celtic’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Aberdeen on Saturday was the performance of January signing Nicolas Kuhn.

The German winger rescued a point for Brendan Rodgers’ side with a deflected strike just minutes after coming on as a substitute and was generally bright in his half-hour cameo appearance at Pittodrie. His first Celtic goal followed his debut off the bench in the previous league match against Ross County and now, with current first-choice wingers Luis Palma and Liel Abada again flattering to deceive at the weekend, Kuhn could be set to make his first start in the midweek game at Hibs.

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Here, using StatsBomb and Wyscout, we break down the former Rapid Vienna attacker’s Aberdeen performance ahead of a potential first Celtic start at Easter Road tomorrow night….

Goal (63 mins)

The most obvious place to start with Kuhn’s Pittodrie display is of course his goal just minutes after he had come on to replace Abada. Part of a triple substitution in response to Bojan Miovski’s opener for the home side five minutes into the second half, Kuhn immediately added a different dimension to the Celtic frontline.

Coming in from the right side, Kuhn’s directness and ability to drive at his man played a big part in the leveller but fellow January arrival, Irish forward Adam Idah, and Matt O’Riley played key roles too.

The move started with Idah demonstrating that ‘reference’ point that Rodgers highlighted in his post-match comments about the on-loan Norwich City attacker’s debut display as he flicked on a clipped ball from Liam Scales down to O’Riley in midfield.

A quick switch of play from O’Riley picked out Kuhn on the right side where he showed that directness by driving at the Aberdeen defence before drifting inside to exchange passes with O’Riley on the edge of the box.

Just as Kuhn was looking like he was going to be crowded out after receiving the ball back from O’Riley and carrying it into the middle of the box, Idah stepped in to knock a composed pass across into Kuhn’s path.

Coming around the back of Idah, the pass from Idah gave Kuhn the time to take a touch before shooting with a deflection beating Kelle Roos in goal. Admittedly fortunate in the finish, the goal was a direct result of Kuhn’s positive play.

Cross (75 mins)

Kuhn then tried to turn provider as Celtic went in search of a winner but he unfortunately did not manage to conjure up too much on this front. He completed one cross, which picked out Tony Ralston in the box for a knockdown, but his other two attempted crosses were unsuccessful and StatsBomb recorded just 0.04 xG Assisted for Kuhn on Saturday, which came from open play.

This is something that will hopefully come as Kuhn gets more minutes. Worryingly, it is still more than Abada and Palma managed in much more minutes of the pitch too – neither provided any xG Assisted between them in open play on Saturday. Palma did manage two key passes but both came from set-pieces and they were only worth a combined xG Assisted value of 0.13.

Defensive duel (88 mins)

The former Ajax and Bayern Munich prospect’s efforts without the ball did not stand out too much when scouting Kuhn last month. However, he more than did he bit defensively at the weekend too and again outshone Abada and Palma in this regard.

Although coming into the action in a different game state, his pressing levels were much higher than Abada or Palma. Kuhn exerted ten pressures during his 30-minute display, one more than Abada did in his hour and only four less than Palma managed in almost 90 minutes (StatsBomb). He was also much more effective in his pressing with six pressure regains to Palma’s two and Abada’s one. Both Abada (one) and Palma (six) had more counterpressures, though. Kuhn did not register one of these types of pressures (a pressure action five seconds or less after the ball has been turned over), so this might be one area off the ball where he could improve.

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His work rate out of possession was still evident in other areas. According to StatsBomb had the joint-highest combined tackles & interceptions in green and white (four), tied with Canadian full-back Alistair Johnston. Again, by contrast, Palma managed just one interception while Abada failed to register one of either. Wyscout also had Kuhn winning four of his five defensive duels (80 per cent) and picking up three loose balls. One of those defensive duels came in the final minutes of the match when Celtic were defending a set-piece.

With the ball dropping to Dons goal scorer Miovski on the edge of the box, Kuhn was quickly across to apply pressure on the Macedonian forward and get a foot in.

Aberdeen did manage to hook the loose ball back towards goal, but Celtic were then able to fully clear.

Dribble (90+7 mins)

As seen in the build-up to his goal, Kuhn’s positivity in 1v1 situations was refreshing. There were a few occasions he could have driven into space more directly but Wyscout marked all four of Kuhn’s dribbles as successful. Although not all led directly to dangerous moments either, as already highlighted, his tendency to face his man up and look to beat him was encouraging.

Celtic’s wingers have been guilty of being too negative on the ball this season, often checking inside or going back towards their own goal. He at least looks capable of beating his man. Hopefully, with more minutes in the coming weeks, this will eventually lead to goalscoring opportunities being created by Kuhn.

His first dribble after entering the game came on the right and saw him cut in and take the Dons’ left back out of the game with a nice drop of the shoulder before unfortunately stumbling on the ball in the box. In the below example, late in the game, Kuhn received the ball from Liam Scales on the opposite side.

Facing up midfielder Jamie McGrath this time, Kuhn showed an ability to beat his man on the outside. However, on this occasion, McGrath did just enough to stretch and get a foot in to concede the corner. Again though, given Celtic’s poor wing play this season, this further evidence of an ability to face his man up and drive at them was good to see.


Kuhn’s first minutes in Celtic's colours have been impressive enough to suggest he is, fitness permitting, more than ready for an opportunity from the start, particularly in light of recent performances from both Abada and Palma.

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His first goal will have given him confidence while, although not translating into creating chances just yet, his ability to take on his man offers something sorely lacking from Celtic’s wide options this season. His work off-the-ball at Pittodrie on Saturday in comparison to Abada and Palma was also noteworthy.

A lack of consistent quality from wingers has been one of the ongoing issues of the season for Celtic so Kuhn’s emergence, which hopefully continues at Easter Road tomorrow night, would certainly be welcome.