There are some interesting stats behind Celtic’s meteoric rise to the top of the league and Rangers equally spectacular collapse.
Prior to the 5th November Celtic had played 12 games, scoring 23 and conceding 12. Since then they have played and won 10 games, scoring 21 and conceding just 3 times. So there hasn’t really been a significant increase in goals scored per game, but there has been a massive improvement in the defensive figures. Nine different players have scored during this time with Hooper, Samaras and (despite injury) Stokes scoring three or more during this time.
By comparison, Rangers have scored 15 goals in their last 10 SPL games with the goals coming from six different sources. Nikica Jelavic is their only player to have scored more than twice but he needed penalty kicks to achieve this. This period corresponds to Steven Naismith’s absence from the team.
Incredibly, seven of Rangers 15 goals in these games have been either own goals or penalties. Dundee United, Dunfermline and Motherwell players have all scored for Rangers while Rangers have benefited from four penalties. In total these seven goals have earned Rangers six points. Only one of Rangers 25 goals prior to this period was a penalty and none were o.g.s, so their period of good fortune coincided with their period of greatest need, a recurrent theme in the Scottish game.
None of Celtic’s 44 SPL goals this season have been scored by opponents and only one has come from the penalty spot, not that we seem to keen to score penalties.
The figures demonstrate the importance of having a variety of players who can contribute goals on a consistent basis as key strikers are always liable to injury or loss of form. Hooper and Stokes have already missed chunks of this season and Georgios Samaras started the season in barren form.
Celtic’s figures are all the more stark considering their most prolific midfielder, Kris Commons, has failed to launch his season due to a frustrating few months of injuries. Goal-scoring midfielders are a precious breed.
I was surprised at how little appetite Nikica Jelavic appeared to have for the contest at Celtic Park last week but a return of 2 goals from 10 games indicates the problem may be well established. He spoke to a Croatian newspaper this week and – unlike his manager when asked about the player being sold this month – informed them he had no intentions of leaving Rangers and that he was “focussed on playing in Scotland”, although he did reference Rangers financial problems.
If Rangers are budgeting on selling Jelavic they may well find the player wants a piece of the action before agreeing to move on.
Thanks to BigchipsUK for the research on the SPL goal stats.
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