One of the top performers of the Scottish Premiership 2022/23 is Matt O’Riley, who currently plays for Celtic as a central midfielder. The Danish-English youth international arrived at Celtic Park on a four-and-a-half-year deal from MK Dons at the start of 2022. Since joining the Scottish champions, Matt O’Riley has taken up the role of an influential player in the squad. He has strengthened and added more creativity to Celtic’s midfield, and his goal contributions have played an important role in helping the club retain the top spot in the Scottish Premiership in their quest for back-to-back titles. Below are some stats that capture the midfielder’s performances from the current season in Scotland.
Matt O’Riley has featured 26 times in the Scottish Premiership this season, starting in 22 matches. He is a versatile midfielder who can play both offensively and defensively. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the player’s stats compared to other centre midfielders in the Scottish Premiership. It can be observed that O’Riley is at the top of his game in the attacking and possession departments. He has a top rank for shots, penalty area touches, dangerous passes, and expected goal contribution. The player also contributes when out of possession, as highlighted by his decent rank in the defensive indicators.
Attacking and progressive gameplay
Matt O’Riley has mainly featured as a right-centre midfielder for Celtic. The above viz illustrates the player’s heat map from the Scottish Premiership for 2022–23. It can be observed that the young midfielder shows high intensity in the final and middle thirds. Most of his movement is in the opposition’s half, particularly towards the right side, and he also breaches into the penalty box. Currently, O’Riley averages 4.96 touches in the opposition’s penalty area and receives 40.48 passes from teammates per match.
Playing as a centre midfielder, Matt O’Riley creates many scoring opportunities for his teammates. So far this season, he has provided nine assists for Celtic in Liga Portugal, for a total xA value of 5.19. From the viz above, it can be observed that his shot assists have come in the form of crosses from corners, cutbacks inside the box, and a few progressive passes. On average, the 22-year-old midfielder generates 2.19 shot assists per match and has also created 12 big chances thus far.
Matt O’Riley possesses the ability to circulate possession and progress the ball forward effectively. The above viz illustrates the midfielder’s ability to find progressive passes to the attacking areas. Most of his progressive passes are directed down the flanks, and many of them have penetrated the penalty box as well. Currently, O’Riley averages 53.03 passes per match with an accuracy of 83.4%. Among these passes, 6.03 are to the final third and 5.01 are to the penalty box on average. The midfielder also has a decent crossing ability and delivers 3.02 crosses per match (40.3% accuracy).
Another aspect of Matt O’Riley’s gameplay worth highlighting is his ability to progress the ball through attacking actions like dribbles and progressive runs. The viz above shows that the midfielder does the majority of his dribbling in the final third, near the penalty box. He also attempts a few progressive runs as he moves up the pitch. Currently, the player averages 2.29 dribbles per match with a 51.1% success rate and also makes 0.97 progressive runs per match.
Apart from his contributions while advancing forward, Matt O’Riley also makes a significant contribution when the team is out of possession. He shows the qualities of a good box-to-box midfielder. The viz above shows the player’s average defensive territory from this season. He positions himself near the half-line and covers a lot of ground, as evidenced by the numerous defensive actions and interceptions he performs all over the pitch.
O’Riley currently gives up 1.51 fouls per match and averages 18.34 duels per 90, along with a 42.7% win rate. He makes 3.84 interceptions per match, putting high pressure on the opposition’s midfield region and the final third while also tracking back into his own penalty box. Furthermore, the player contests 6.37 defensive duels and 2.72 aerial duels per match.
Another way O’Riley makes his contribution to the team is by recovering the ball in the attacking half. On average, the 22-year-old makes 7.35 recoveries per 90 minutes. He has made 52.3% of these recoveries in the attacking half, including quite a few in and around the opposition penalty box, some of which have resulted in shots.
Over the past season and a half, Matt O’Riley has developed into a vital player for Celtic. He is an ideal candidate for a box-to-box midfield role with a strong set of defensive attributes, but he also makes important contributions while moving forward in the attacking phase. Celtic will expect the same levels of performance from their young midfield star for the rest of the campaign as they look to secure back-to-back league titles.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine