'˜Fans may suffer as much as the ball' '“ Journalists' predictions for Livingston v Hearts
After a clean sweep with last week's Hearts v Motherwell predictions, our online team try and make two in a row for tonight's match at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Mark Atkinson: Livingston are going to be goosed after Tuesday night. A stoppage-time defeat up in Aberdeen, a long journey home, only 48 hours to prepare for this one and a fatigued squad that is starting to be hit by injuries. The biggest question is whether Hearts, buoyed by an ugly yet important win over Motherwell last weekend, have enough in attack to take advantage. Probably just, but it won’t be pretty on Livi’s pellet-ridden surface. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re talking 1-0 Hearts thanks to Peter Haring, Clevid Dikamona or Christophe Berra. For the latter, it would be fitting on his 200th appearance for the club.
Craig Fowler: Hearts 1-0 Motherwell was roundly described as an affront on the eyes and we shouldn’t be expecting much different tonight. Hearts still lack the attacking flair of earlier in the season, while Livingston’s game is built around ceding possession to the opposition and playing the percentages. Hearts, for a change, have been terrific from set-pieces this season, while the hosts are a constant threat from corners, free-kicks and even throw-ins, as ex-Tynecastle youth product Alan Lithgow can launch it with the best of them. Whoever wins that battle will win the game. Prediction: 1-0 away win.
Patrick McPartlin: Livingston surprised many with their early-season form, including victories over Hibs and Rangers at the Tony Macaroni Arena, and a goalless draw with Hearts at Tynecastle while the Jambos were in the midst of their unbeaten run. They came within seconds of taking a point at Pittodrie on Tuesday, and as such their mid-week exertions could take their toll in West Lothian tonight. There’s quality in Gary Holt’s side but Hearts look to have found a rhythm of sorts despite their depleted numbers. I don’t think it’ll be a particularly pretty game to watch, but I can see Hearts edging it. Prediction: Away win.
Joel Sked: The Tynecastle side finally got a much-needed win against Motherwell in an encounter where there wasn’t much football. Craig Levein has admitted that the side won’t be back to playing the high-tempo, slick and vibrant football of early in the season until more key players are back in attack. The trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena will likely see another fixture where the fans may have to suffer as much as the ball. Eleven of Livi’s goals have arrived from set-pieces, while Hearts have scored eight, excluding penalties. Corners, free-kicks and throw-ins will be crucial. With Christophe Berra back to his best Hearts should be able to repel Livi’s key threat but the team won’t have the required craft to break down the home side’s defence. 0-0 draw.
Neil McGlade: Last weekend’s win over Motherwell wasn’t pretty, but that didn’t matter a jot to the Hearts supporters. Getting across the line with three points does. The good news keeps rolling with Steven Naismith, who is pencilled in for a return to action next weekend, giving the strongest indication yet he is ready to commit to the Gorgie side when his loan deal at parent club Norwich expires. The Jam Tarts also revealed they hope to see long-term injured duo John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu back in action towards the end of next month. You cannot underestimate the boost that brings to a squad that has been starved of attacking options in recent weeks. Livingston are well organised under Gary Holt and will be desperate to make amends for the last-minute defeat to Aberdeen on Tuesday. Score draw.
Anthony Brown: The vibe around Hearts has improved over the past week or two and the victory over Motherwell should have a settling effect on a team which had lost its way amid a remarkable run of misfortune on the injury front. Livingston away has proven to be a tougher-than-anticipated fixture for most teams in the league this season, but the prospect of going joint top of the table, even if it may be for one night only, will serve as a strong incentive to help Craig Levein’s side get over the line. Prediction: Away win.