Let's just be frank; Hibs have been excellent this season. Similarly, Hibs' midfield has been…
We’re now quickly approaching the Scottish Premiership’s conclusion with just over a month left of the current league campaign. But before we crown our champions and lift the Scottish Cup let’s look back and applaud the very best players from the month of March – all decided through data.
Every month TheTwoPointOne chooses the Scottish Premiership players of the month for the Sunday Herald. This article initially appeared in the paper on Sunday, April 8.
Goalkeeping is always a tough skill to separate from the overall performance of a team’s defensive line but sometimes that in itself can be a good thing. The very best back lines perform like a unit and that is undoubtedly the case at Kilmarnock this season.
While Steve Clarke may have his entire team built around defending his goalmouth there’s no denying that Jamie MacDonald has been one of the stand-out shot-stoppers in the league this season. And that was perfectly illustrated through the three clean sheets the Rugby Park goalkeeper picked up over the course of March.
Scott Bain at Celtic, Freddie Woodman at Aberdeen and St Johnstone’s Alan Mannus all picked up important clean sheets over the course of the month but it was MacDonald that ultimately beat them all to the prize.
Hibernian often get plenty of credit for their wide array of attacking but rarely are they appreciated as a strong, defensive team too. Over the course of March Neil Lennon’s side conceded just one goal in three Premiership games and at the heart of that was Darren McGregor.
Although Paul Hanlon and Efe Ambrose are the most high-profile members of Hibs’ back line, McGregor made more defensive actions than any other defender over the course of the month and also chipped in with an average of 5.63 interceptions per game.
As Lennon’s side continue to push for second place there’s no doubt that the headline-catching attacking players have a lot to be grateful for when they consider their defensive counterparts.
Few players have been on a path of redemption this season quite like Scott Allan. Shunned by Celtic for so long, the attacking midfielder has spent this league campaign showing his worth first at Dundee and now at Hibernian. And in March we saw the very best of the 26-year old.
Not only did Allan score in the Edinburgh derby, but he also bagged assists in Hibs’ 1-1 draw with St Johnstone and the 2-0 win over Partick Thistle. In fact, when it comes to assists per 90 over the last month of Premiership football no player in the division even comes close to him.
For Allan to be out-firing his rivals across the division is one thing but to do it at a squad he only joined in January adds a whole new dimension to his achievements. And will undoubtedly have made a few at his parents club reconsider their opinion of the attacking midfielder.
Strikers are often rated entirely on how many goals they score. Sometimes that’s a little harsh but in the case of Moussa Dembele there’s no doubt that the Frenchman wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over the course of March Celtic’s young forward averaged no less than 1.04 goals per game as he kicked back in to form with style and class with a special goal against Rangers to ensure a 3-2 victory at Ibrox. This season’s Premiership has showcased a whole batch of impressive goalscorers but in March Dembele outscored them all.
When it comes down to which player outplayed all of his opponents and truly shined throughout March it’s hard to look beyond the contributions Allan has made to Neil Lennon’s Hibs team over the past month.
The Easter Road side have picked up 10 points since the start of March – a record bested only by Kilmarnock – and now look set to continue battling for second place in the Premiership. Would that have been possible without Allan’s goals and assists? It’s unlikely and as such safe to assume that the attacking midfielder has been pivotal to one of Scottish football’s most entertaining sides.