The Celtic away stat that will frustrate Ange; Bhoys can do better

By Euan Davidson

December 24, 2021

The other night, Celtic played out a goalless draw with St Mirren, and it’s unlikely Ange or the Bhoys will be particularly happy.

In fact, Ange Postecoglou was brutally honest about Celtic’s profligacy in front of goal. After the game, he said [Sky Sports]: “We’re left with that bad feeling, because we created enough chances to win three games. [We] just lacked a bit of composure and a little bit of quality in that front third to finish it off.”

So, as we head back out on the road to face another set of Saints, it’s probably a good time to look at how we’re getting – or not getting – our goals during away games.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

First, let’s start with the positive; some home numbers. At Celtic Park, the Bhoys have an average xG of 2.86 goals a game [FootyStats]. The Hoops normally treat their fans to an average of 2.44 goals a game, so it’s a small underperformance on xG, but hardly bad. We know it can be done, Celtic have scored plenty past our opposition at a packed Paradise.

On the road, though, it’s a different story. We have an average xG of 2.43, but “only” manage to typically reach 1.7 goals a match. So, if proof were needed; we’re still able to comfortably generate opportunities, but we’re just not doing the same job away from Paradise. We’re leaving roughly 0.7 goals a game on the table.

It makes sense; our worst results in the league have been away from home. Livingston, Rangers, Hearts; all from outwith the confines of Parkhead.

No wonder Ange Postecoglou sounded frustrated, then. But it’s something the Hoops can immediately try to improve upon against St Johnstone.

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The stats will frustrate a modern manager like Ange, but Celtic can take heart with St Johnstone up next

For a modern manager like Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, data will be a part of what he does. It’s not everything, and there are some who hate xG and the like. However, it is usually a useful indicator of how a team is doing, and whether they should be better or worse than they actually are.

So, yes; having the stats say you should be scoring more goals away than we do is going to possibly frustrate the boss. There are mitigating factors, obviously; for one thing, it’d be useful to have a striker on the pitch more often. Hard to perform to expectations with a good chunk of the team missing.

St Johnstone, though, offer Celtic a good opportunity according to the numbers. At McDiarmid Park, the Perth side have the lowest xG of anyone in the Scottish Premiership, with just 0.94 expected goals on average. Celtic have the best, for what it’s worth.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

With their own injury troubles to seek, the Saints are statistically unlikely to threaten Celtic significantly. However, again – stats aren’t everything.

Humour me for a second, though; St Johnstone have conceded 14 goals from open play, 2 from counter-attacks. That’s encouraging for a fast-paced Celtic side who like to break at speed, or dominate possession and work opportunities.

And they’ve won just 1 game at home all season [WhoScored?].

If there was a chance for Celtic to perform to their statistical expectations, even without some key players, this would be the opportunity to do it.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou delivers grim Celtic squad update ahead of Boxing Day clash