Scott Bain: Has Celtic goalkeeper become Brendan Rodgers' first-choice between the posts?

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Is Scott Bain Celtic's best goalkeeper?

Scott Bain has only made 13 appearances for Celtic this season, but he has started his club's last seven games. Has Brendan Rodgers anointed him first-choice goalkeeper?

Although his rival for the position, Craig Gordon, has enjoyed a successful stint over the past two seasons, he has at times seemed at odds with Rodgers' style of football. That is an area in which Bain has thrived whenever offered the opportunity.

So if Bain has been promoted - and he certainly looks favourite to start Thursday's Europa League meeting with Valencia - what makes him a better option between the posts? BBC Scotland assesses the numbers to try and find out.

A new type of goalkeeper

The perceived wisdom seems to be that Bain is Rodgers' preferred stopper because he's better with the ball at his feet. And as far as the stats are concerned that certainly seems to be the case.

Before Sunday's Scottish Cup tie against St Johnstone, Bain and Gordon had an almost identical average of passes per 90 minutes (22.41 and 21.89 respectively) but while Bain's accuracy stood at an impressive 96.5%, Gordon's took a notable dip to 86.2%. And things only got worse for the senior goalkeeper when we dived even further into both player's passing stats.

Gordon averaged 6.92 long passes per match, which was almost three times greater than Bain's average of 2.34. Yet what is perhaps most telling is that Gordon's accuracy with said punts up the park stood at just 62%, while Bain tended to find his preferred target 81.2% of the time.

A similar trend comes to the fore when we look at both players' forward passing. While Gordon, again, has attempted far more than Bain per match (12.31 to 9.78 respectively) the accuracy of his passing stands at 78%. Bain, on the other hand, completes 94% of his.

Essentially, Gordon and Bain make a similar number of passes per game but the former tends to focus on longer, less accurate passes while Bain seems more interested in shorter passes that tend to reach their target with far more regularity.

Old-fashioned shot-stopping

When it comes to the more traditional aspects of a goalkeeper's job, there is much less to choose between the Celtic duo.

Although Gordon is perhaps best regarded as a great saver of shots, Bain tends to save more on average per match.

Again, before Sunday, the younger goalkeeper was saving an average of 85% of shots fired towards him each game, compared to Gordon's 75%.

On the other hand, Gordon was the better of the two when it comes to dominating in the air. Despite only being four inches taller, he won 89% of aerial duels in the Celtic box, compared to Bain's 87.5%.

'He understands the game'

Rodgers himself says Bain fulfils his bread-and-butter goalkeeper duties while also possessing a "wonderful view of the game".

"He understands when it needs speeding up, when it needs controlling. And for my teams throughout my life that's how I've always had it," the Celtic manager said last week.

"The goalkeepers don't need to be 6ft 4ins or 6ft 5ins as long as they've got good agility, can make saves and then they can participate in the game when we have the ball.

"You then need a goalkeeper who can stay calm and pick out the lines of pass that we would want him to. He's very, very good."

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