Celtic can't be fooled by wasteful Shane Duffy's defensive numbers

By David Walton

January 18, 2021

Shane Duffy’s Celtic stats from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Livingston read absolutely superbly, but it’s vital we’re not fooled.

Indeed, Duffy impressed against Hibernian in last Monday’s 1-1 draw at Parkhead. Or at least until he was questionably at fault for Hibs’ equaliser along with a few others.

But that wasn’t the case yesterday. Duffy was anything but impressive. One search of his name on Twitter will show you exactly what some thought of his performance. It was the latest poor display in what’s been a season full of them for the Irishman.

Trying Hollywood balls to Jeremie Frimpong every time he strode forward was never going to work. Neither was the way he was defending which was full of panic all game.

You wouldn’t know that just reading his defensive stats. Stat-experts WhoScored ranked the Ireland veteran as the man-of-the-match. He managed a fine all-round rating of 7.81/10.

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Looking at his defensive numbers, you would think he had a stormer. He won a commanding 13 aerial duels against Livi yesterday. In addition to that, he produced eight clearances. With one successful tackle and another interception, it looks as though he had a fine day at the office.

Shane Duffy’s Celtic stats vs Livi don’t tell the full story

But that’s not the case when you’re playing for Celtic. Duffy’s clearances were actually highly-frustrating for a Celtic support who wanted to see more composure from its backline. Too often was Duffy simply hoofting it clear when there were other options on.

How often did we see a ball come into the box that was just booted out for a shy or a corner? How often was Duffy facing his own goal in possession before deciding to simply blast it out of play? These count as clearances, but in truth it was wasteful. A chance to keep possession and find your man and turn Livi.

Duffy took the no-nonsense approach yesterday, but this wasn’t the game for that. Too often it was winning Livingston set-piece opportunities that helped to slow the game down. It was largely played at their pace.

Shane Duffy in action for Celtic / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Perhaps the most relevant stat that sums up his display s his passing percentage. WhoScored clocked him with an overall total of 58.7% passing accuracy – second bottom out of all the outfield players outside of Diego Laxalt. Duffy attempted more passes than anyone else with 63.

He also tried 12 long balls yesterday – you remember them surely. Only two actually came off. Those small stats are a sign of just how frustrating Shane was yesterday with the ball at his feet. It was vital when he was in possession that he simply played it to a team-mate or back to his goalkeeper. Why he constantly tried the spectacular is anyone’s guess. Gavin Strachan should’ve clamped down on that early on.

So it’s important not to let ourselves be fooled by Duffy’s stats. His no-nonsense approach was too OTT yesterday. We’ve been fooled by numbers like these before – he was anything but the best on the pitch yesterday.

In other news, it really is time to start talking about these Neil Lennon comments from November.