Tom Rogic: The Other Celtic Young Player of the Year Candidate

RogicChances are if you are reading this,you have likely clicked a link to this article through my twitter account, so you fully realize that I am a Celtic supporter. I have tried to write about a wide variety of topics in the SPFL Premiership this season and avoid spending more time focusing on Celtic. There have been many interesting stories about clubs challenging Celtic this season from a statistical perspective, so it has been easy to find things to write about the other SPFL Premiership clubs this season. However, after Celtic announced the candidates for the club’s Young Player of the Year, many Celtic supporters on Twitter have assumed it is a foregone conclusion that left back Kieran Tierney will win the award. The young left back has certainly been impressive in his first full season in the Celtic first team and his play this season has earned his first Scotland cap. However, is Tierney the only worthy candidate for the award this season? Since the Presidential Election season is in full swing here in the United States, might I present an alternate candidate, a candidate who could have quite possibly literally won Celtic the title two weekends ago with his amazing goal against Kilmarnock. That candidate is, of course, Tom Rogic.

Celtic Minutes-2

It is tough to compare an attacking midfielder and a left back’s contribution to a club. They are asked to do different things for the club, and as I stated in previous work, it is still a bit tricky quantifying defensive contributions to a club ,especially compared to straightforward measures like goals and assists. However, we can compare Rogic and Tierney strictly on their time on the pitch for Celtic this season. Rogic has appeared a little under 200 more minutes than Tierney this season for the club in league play. After spending nearly all of two seasons injured, it is impressive to see Rogic with the fifth most minutes at the club this season. While Ronny Deila has had numerous issues this season, it is impressive how he has been able to get players like Rogic and James Forrest (who only has about 1,000 league minutes, but due mostly to the fact he’s been mediocre at best rather than injury) healthy and able to contribute to the club.

Celtic Goals

While we have discussed the importance Leigh Griffiths has played for Celtic this season, as we can see in the above graph, Rogic is the second leading goal scorer in the league at the club this season. Furthermore, a few of his goals have been important goals for Celtic this season, such as the previously mentioned super goal against Kilmarnock and an important goal away at Tynecastle against Hearts that gave Celtic a point (and would have gotten them 3 points if not for a injury time Hearts free kick equalizer). Rogic has added many vital goals to Celtic’s campaign for another title this season.

Dashboard 4

Along with his ability to score this season, Rogic has also been a key creator of chances for his teammates with 5 assists this season, only behind Kris Commons who has 6. When looking at Celtic players who have at least 1000 minutes in league play, Rogic is only behind Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons in combined Goals and Assists per 90 minutes. The Aussie has been able to create his own goals and goals for his teammates and is not only amongst the leaders at the club, but also leaders in the entire SPFL Premiership.

Celtic xG

Finally, let’s take a look at Tom Rogic’s expected goal contribution to Celtic this season. We see that Rogic has an xG total of 4.18 so far this season, which is 4th best. Looking at the rest of the table we see that Rogic’s xG numbers around the likes of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven, yet Rogic has 4 more goals in the league than both Armstrong and Mackay-Stevens. Rogic has had roughly similar types of chances that his colleagues have had, yet has been able to be more clinical in his finishing. Kris Commons has a 6.72 xG total this season, much higher than Rogic, yet has 3 goals less than the Aussie. As Seth at Fitba Fancy Stats has shown, there is definitely some randomness and luck involved in goal scoring. Sometimes a player can do everything right and the ball just doesn’t go in and sometimes the ball magically finds it’s way in with the player not doing a lot to earn a goal. However, Rogic’s combination of expected goals numbers and goal scoring this season has been very impressive and vital to Celtic this season.

Kieran Tierney has certainly had an impressive season and is very much deserving of Celtic’s Young Player of the Year award. However, it seems that many Celtic supporters are overlooking the importance that Tom Rogic has had for the club this season. Rogic’s goal scoring and ability to create chances for his teammates has been very impressive this season. He is proving to be an important player for the club this season and seems to be a worthy candidate for Young Player of the Year at Celtic.

 

SPFL Premiership xG form in the Last Ten Matches

Along with the usual updates to the Advanced Stats Team Table, Expected Goals Leaders, and Combined Goals and Assists per 90 minutes Leaders, I created some charts similar to the points earned chart for this season. I saw the idea on the twitter account for the great ice hockey analytics blog “Don’t Tell Me About Heart”. DTMAH tracked  the xG output for each division in the NHL for the past 30 days and I thought it was an interesting way to visualize xG output and wanted to try it with the SPFL Premiership. I divided the charts between the top 6 and bottom 6 of the league.

Sheet 1-3

Sheet 1-6

 

The Topsy Turvy SPFL Premiership Table

While I might have been diagnosed with a full case of “March Madness”, I haven’t forsaken the siren song of Scottish football. While watching copious amounts of American college basketball (Goooo Dayton Flyers!) I was messing around with Tableau and made this graph showing points earned over the season for every team in the SPFL Premiership. I think it represents the constant movement of various clubs up and down the table quite well.

SPFL Premiership Points over Matches

Just How Important Are Leigh Griffiths and Adam Rooney to their Clubs?

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Leigh Griffiths and Adam Rooney are gonna get on this TV mama, they’re gonna put xG down. Hey, hey, hey they’re good.

Last week the top two teams in the SPFL Premiership, Celtic and Aberdeen, both dropped points. While refereeing decisions caused debate in both of the matches, I found it interesting that the star men for both clubs this season were either missing or ineffective for their clubs. Adam Rooney missed Aberdeen’s 1-1 draw against St. Johnstone and could miss the next six weeks with a thigh injury. While Leigh Griffiths scored from the spot in Celtic’s 1-1 draw against Hamilton, he also had another penalty saved and was held mostly in check by the Hamilton defense, recording 2 shots where he has averaged 4.99 per 90 minutes this season, 1 shot on target where he averaged 2.86 per 90, and had an xG total of 0.10 where he averaged 0.72 per 90 thus far. While both Celtic and Aberdeen have pulled themselves away from the rest of the pack in the SPFL Premiership this season, both have been heavily reliant on their respective star striker. Celtic had a short stretch without Griffiths and Aberdeen now face an extended amount of time without Rooney, now seems like a good time to look at just what each have meant to their respective clubs.

First let’s look at Celtic’s Goals over Expected Goals for every player thus far in the season (sidetone: I’ve removed some fringe players from the graph just for clarity’s sake. Do you care where Tyler Blackett falls on the graph? Me neither.)

Goals_xG

Most of the team is bunched up in the bottom left corner and then we get to…OH GOD LOOK AT LEIGH GRIFFITHS. Griffiths position on the graph looks like the cover to Kanye West’s “Graduation”, flying off the graph compared to the rest of his team. This is no surprise with Griffiths great play, but perhaps the alarming thing for Celtic supporters is the fact that no other Celtic players are even in the same area code as Griffiths. Clearly Griffiths is carrying the load when it comes to goals and scoring chances, having such a much larger expected goals total than anyone else on his team. Griffiths has missed a few matches this season, but for the most part has enjoyed a clean bill of health this season and Celtic are better off for it, as this graph shows they are so heavily reliant of the striker with no one else contributing nearly as much as Griffiths.

Next, let us look at the same graph with the Aberdeen team for this season.

Goals_xG-2

Altogether, a very similar tale to the same graph with Celtic. Niall McGinn might be overachieving a bit scoring 7 goals with an xG of 3.4 for the season, but Adam Rooney has a Griffiths like Yeezy spot on the graph, performing far and away above the rest of his club when it comes to goals and expected goals. With Rooney possibly missing the next six weeks due to injury, it could be tough for Aberdeen to sustain their title challenge without Rooney’s contribution. They will require someone to fill the metaphorical big shoes of Rooney, but might they have some hope for a replacement?

Goals p 90_xG p 90

When we look at Aberdeen’s Goals per 90 minutes over Expected Goals per 90 minutes, we actually see someone in the vicinity of Rooney. Milton Keyes loanee Simon Church was sent to Aberdeen for the rest of the season and has done well in his 4 matches with the Dons of Aberdeen so far, scoring 2 goals for a 0.55 goals per 90 minutes and an xG of 0.57 per 90 minutes. While these numbers have come in very limited time for Church, these are very good numbers thus far and Church will need to continue his good form if Aberdeen are to stay in the title hunt.

Goals p 90_xG p 90-2

Looking at the Goals per 90/xG per 90 for Celtic there doesn’t seem to be anyone like Church with Aberdeen for Celtic who could fill in for Griffiths without much of a drop-off. The closest to Griffiths on this graph is Nadir Ciftci and he is busy on loan in Turkey getting sent off 30 minutes into a substitute appearance. With Ronny Deila’s oft debated one striker formation, if Leigh Griffiths is struggling the onus falls on the attacking midfielders on the shoulder the burden for the Celtic attack and this season they have struggled to do so. Kris Commons has the 2nd highest xG per 90 at the club, but has under-performed in goal scoring based on his xG numbers. Gary Mackay-Stevens and Stuart Armstrong look like shadows of the players that were at Dundee United and even the players who were at Celtic last season and scoring against the likes of Inter Milan. “Contract rebel” James Forrest is performing worse than both Mackay-Stevens and Armstrong in both xG and goals per 90, which makes you wonder what he thinks he will be able to earn for a contract outside of Celtic. Last year’s player of the year Stefan Johansen also looks nothing like the player who was voted the best in the SPFL last season, and his meager xG and goal numbers reflect that. With all of these players struggling, Ronny Deila brought in some new attacking midfielders in Ryan Christie and Scott Allan permanently and Patrick Roberts on a eighteen month loan from Manchester City and much of the Celtic support are eager to see what these players can do. With their colleagues in midfield struggling this season, the pressure is on these new arrivals to perform for Celtic. The Bhoys have relied on Leigh Griffiths to bring them success, but as last Friday night against Hamilton showed, they will need other players to contribute if Griffiths is either missing or having a rare game struggling.

Goals p 90_Shots p 90

Shots p 90_Goals p 90-2

Finally, lets take a look at the Goals per 90 minutes compared to shots per 90 for both teams. As is the “Real Football Man” Cliche goes, “you can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket.” These graphs looking at both clubs’ shots compared to goals tells a story mostly the same as the other graphs we have looked at so far. Griffiths and Rooney are heavily relied upon for much of attack for both Celtic and Aberdeen, with Simon Church looking respectable in his short time in Aberdeen. It will be interesting to see if either club can find another player who can help shoulder the load on attack for the rest of the season, especially for Aberdeen as they face an extended period of time without Adam Rooney.