Celtic are currently ranked second in the Scottish Premiership standings for the 2021-22 season, with 26 points from 13 games. They trail leaders and arch-rivals, Rangers, by four points, and will be trying to reduce the gap. Celtic are undefeated in eight games in all competitions and six games in the league, winning four of their last five games. They hold the league’s greatest defensive record, with only nine goals conceded in 13 games. They also have the most goals, with 30, just one more than their nearest rivals, the Rangers. Celtic will be disappointed not to be at the top of the table after scoring the most goals and conceding the fewest.
Let’s take a look at what the stats have to say about their defensive performances:
The above visual shows us the table for expected goals against, which indicates the xG that the opposition teams generated against a team. A lower xGA indicates that the opposition team did not create as many chances in front of the goal and had a lower xG. Celtic have a total xGA of 7.54 and average an xG of 0.544 against them so far. Celtic have the lowest xGA in the Premiership and also have the lowest number of shots on goal against them. They’ve established themselves as the finest defense in the division, and they’ll try to maintain that status. The visual also indicates the xG Celtic have generated against other teams which is indicated by the red bar. As seen in the visual, Celtic have generated a high xG against most of the teams in the league and are a brutal attack to face.
The above visual shows us the PPDA (passes allowed per defensive action) and the average challenge intensity for the teams in the Scottish Premiership. Celtic have the lowest PPDA, which indicates that they have allowed the least number of passes per defensive action. A lower PPDA indicates that the team is following a high press system and can recover the ball from the opposition team more frequently.
Challenge intensity reflects how often the team is actively trying to recover the ball when the opponent is in possession and is related to PPDA. The higher this number, the more intense the team is in challenges. Celtic have an average challenge intensity of 8.71, which tells us that they have attempted more challenges on the opposition team to retrieve the ball back.
Since Celtic have a high challenge intensity and have a high success rate in winning the challenges they attempt, it is obvious that they will have a higher number of recoveries. Celtic have the second-highest number of recoveries in the opposition’s half, which indicates they have a high pressing style of play and recover possession of the ball in the opposition’s half more. This gives Celtic an edge over other teams as they can begin an attack by winning the ball in the opposition’s half before the opposition team has the chance to reorganize. Carl Starfelt has completed most recoveries for Celtic with 165 recoveries, while David Turnbull and Callum McGregor have completed most recoveries in the opposition’s half.
The above visual shows us the defensive stats for defender Cameron Carter-Vickers. It is visible that the American defender is much better than the average in most of the stats, and has been one of the best defenders for Celtic this season. It can be seen that he has attempted a lower number of defensive actions per 90 minutes, which is because Celtic have been able to win the ball in the opposition’s half more. He has won 89.36% of the attempted defensive actions. He is also a big threat, when it comes to set-piece situations for Celtic as he wins most of the aerial duels in the opposition’s penalty area and has also scored twice for Celtic this season.
Celtic did have a shaky start to the season, as they failed to keep clean sheets in the away games and conceded goals very easily. But they have come back on track and climbed to the second position with a better defensive record in the past month. They are only four points behind the Rangers and will look to close down on this gap with the help of the impressive defensive performances they have put up so far.