St. Johnstone are set to welcome Celtic at McDiarmid Park on Sunday in the Scottish Premiership. The home side were defeated in their important bottom-of-the-table match in midweek, while the visitors were held off to a draw in their recent game. Can the Saints hold off Celtic?
St. Johnstone have struggled to put a decent string of results throughout the season. They were recently defeated by fellow relegation contenders, Ross County, in the midweek game at home. The 1-2 defeat against County means that the Saints have now tasted defeat in seven successive matches. Their inefficiency in front of the goal has cost them many games. Ross Callachan’s second-half goal gave his side the lead after Regan Charles-Cook’s opening goal was canceled out by Jacob Butterfield’s deflected shot.
The Saints have been missing key players due to COVID-19 related concerns. Zander Clark, Shaun-Rooney, Chris Kane, and Eetu Vertainen missed out on the match as they are isolated. As a result, the Saints maintain their place at the bottom of the league with three wins, five draws, and 11 losses in 19 matches. Their inability to convert chances is further highlighted by the fact that they have scored just 10 goals this season. St. Johnstone are two points behind Dundee and four behind Ross County. David Wotherspoon and Cammy MacPherson are sidelined due to injuries and will miss out on the match against Celtic. Kane, Clark, Shaun-Rooney and Eetu Vertainen are doubtful as well.
The Saints’ manager Callum Davidson claimed in the post-match interview after the defeat against Ross County that his side are not doing enough to keep the opponents at bay. In terms of successful defensive duels, St. Johnstone are placed at the second spot in the league. They average 40.12 successful defensive duels per match.
St. Johnstone’s successful forward passes put them at the eighth spot in the league. They are placed above their fellow relegation contenders in terms of this metric. The Saints average 75.4 successful forward passes per match.
Celtic slipped in their chase as they held off to a draw by St. Mirren. The Hoops were recently victorious in the league cup final and won their first trophy under Postecoglou. However, a draw against St. Mirren means that they are now six points behind defending Champions, Rangers. Before their recent draw, Celtic were on a six-game winning run. Following the draw against St. Mirren, Postecoglou was critical of his side’s composure and quality in the final third. The Hoops would be looking to put their title challenge back on track when they visit the bottom of the table St. Johnstone. Joe Hart and Kyogo Furuhashi are doubtful to make an appearance in the match. Turnbull, Jota, Giakoumakis and Forrest are also doubtful to feature.
In terms of expected goals, Celtic are at the top of the table. The Hoops average an xG of 2.33 per match.
Celtic also lead the Premiership in terms of touches in the penalty box. They average 31.38 touches in the penalty box per match.
St. Johnstone (5-3-2): Parish; Brown, Dendoncker, Gordon, McCart, Booth; Bryson, Davidson, Butterfield; O’Halloran, May.
Celtic (4-1-4-1): Bain; Scales, Welsh, Carter-Vickers, Ralston; Bitton ; Johnston, Rogic, McGregor, Moffat ; Abada.
Celtic are favourites going into the match and should come out on top.