Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today claimed it would take a “catastrophic collapse” for Capital rivals Hearts to relinquish their iron grip on the Championship title.
The Easter Road club’s superb 4-0 win against one-time favourites Rangers allowed Robbie Neilson’s side to open up a yawning 15-point gap on the troubled Ibrox club at the campaign’s halfway stage.
Hibs lie a further four points behind Rangers as they go into the third Edinburgh derby of the season on Saturday but Stubbs insisted that his players had nothing to fear as they head for Tynecastle, adamant that the previous two matches between the Capital outfits had shown there was nothing between the sides.
Hearts won the first clash in Gorgie 2-1 while it took a last-minute wonder goal from the Jambos’ Alim Ozturk at Easter Road to salvage a point for them and maintain a hitherto unbeaten record in the league.
Today Stubbs revealed that he has nothing but admiration for his city neighbours, saying: “Hearts have had a brilliant start to the season.
“I’ve said this before, they deserve to be where they are but I feel the two games we’ve played against them could have gone either way.
“We completely respect Hearts because they have had the best start of anyone in the division. There’s no denying that, they have some really good players. Robbie has done a great job but we are going to go there on Saturday and have a right go at them.
“We do not fear them. We respect them, but we certainly do not fear them.
“But it is going to be a tough game. Both teams are in a rich vein of form so it will be interesting. Hearts have the league to lose, there’s no denying that. They are 19 points clear of us and 15 ahead of Rangers so for them to lose it would be a catastrophic collapse, let’s be honest.
“We can only control what we can control. We are going there trying to win. If we do it’s 16 points, if we don’t then it’s a monumental ask.”