5 wins on the bounce, six straight games unbeaten at the home fortress of the Tony Macaroni Arena, and the finest goal scoring record in the league outwith Celtic and Rangers.
By rights, Livingston needs to be toiling for survival in the lower reaches of the leading flight. They have the division’s 2nd lowest average presence – simply 3,664 last season – and the second-lowest wage bill.
Yet they sit conveniently in 5th – four points above Hibernian and eight clear of seventh-place Kilmarnock – and are on course for their best top-flight finish in 18 years since coming third in 2002.
So how have the Livi Lions defied the odds and found their roar? BBC Scotland takes an appearance at the numbers behind their success.
Spaghettihad & the miserly defence
The robust, direct style of Livingston is not always pleasing on the eye, however is ruthlessly reliable – and much of the group’s success this season is down to their home kind. The modest Tony Macaroni Arena and its plastic pitch has ended up being a Lion’s den where opponents are chewed up and spat out.
Livingston’s haul of 24 points from 12 house games – compared to simply 10 from 12 away matches – is a record bettered only by Celtic and Rangers, and their protective stats suffice to make a Catenaccio coach envious.
No side in the Premiership has a more miserly backline on house soil than Livingston.
They have actually not conceded in their last 6 Premiership home matches, winning 5 on the spin, and have actually kept clean sheets in nine of12 In contrast, Celtic have actually summoned simply 7 tidy sheets in 12 and Rangers 7 in 11.
In overall, Holt’s guys have lost simply five goals in your home, one fewer than Celtic and level with Rangers regardless of having actually played a game more than the Ibrox side.
Savvy recruitment and attacking expertise
Livingston finished ninth last season on their go back to the top flight, however the foundation of that solid project were quickly lowered to debris.
Goalkeeper Liam Kelly, centre-backs Craig Halkett and Declan Gallagher, and midfielder Shaun Byrne – all with more than 35 appearances each last term – proceeded. Loan striker Ryan Hardie, who had ended up as the side’s top scorer with 7 goals, also departed and Holt had a substantial restore on his hands.
He has actually plugged the spaces with canny recruitment. Jon Guthrie has actually been a stand-out at centre-back – and contributed an impressive four-goal haul at the other end – while fellow protector Aaron-Taylor Sinclair only showed up in November but has quickly established himself.
Marvin Bartley has become a solid mainstay in midfield, Aymen Souda brings bustle in attacking areas and goalkeeper Matija Sarkic impressed in his six-month loan spell. Robby McCrorie has actually considering that been drafted in from Rangers to fill the gloves – and Holt labelled the performance in his recent launching against St Johnstone as “remarkable”.
The pick of the finalizings, however, are in forward positions – and the stats have actually shown that.
Livingston scored 1.10 goals per video game last season, a fact that had them the joint-seventh top-scoring group in the league along with Hearts. That has actually substantially enhanced this season – a lot so that just Celtic and Rangers have actually outscored Gary Holt’s side and their 1.50 goals per video game.
Lyndon Dykes has actually taken the step up from second-tier Queen of the South in his stride. The Australian already has 11 goals and his physical qualities make him a problem to defenders while putting him on the global radar and supposedly bring in interest from Rangers
Steven Lawless’ goal tally is also into double figures – 3 more than any Livingston gamer netted last season – and he has helped 5 on top of that in the Premiership.
Physical or thuggish?
Livingston have drawn in criticism for their design of play and physicality – however are they committing more offenses than other groups? The numbers suggest the Lions are all roar and no bite in disciplinary matters.
In spite of being third-highest in the league for fouls yielded, Gary Holt’s guys resemble kitties in comparison to Hamilton Accies, who have seven red cards to Livingston’s 2.
They are not among the highest upseting groups when it concerns cautions either – they are fifth in the league with 42 yellow cards compared to the similarity Motherwell and Ross County who have actually seen their players reserved 50 times each.
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Livingston have made their home a Lion’s den, have shown physical expertise and defensive tenacity, however they have an assaulting punch too now, making them a formidable force well beyond their means.
‘ Painting pictures in training’
Livingston supervisor Gary Holt
We are attempting to carry out things, show them things and inform them with the analysis that we do.
The training sessions we do is painting photos for them to try to execute and I felt on Saturday [1-0 home win over Motherwell] that increasingly more what we have actually been carrying out in the week came out.
The motion off the ball, motion beyond the ball, supporting the team-mates when the ball went forward was actually pleasing to see.
It was good and you just hope it is another wee building block for them to see how great they are and what they can achieve with, primarily, effort.
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