Hearts v Hibs: Journalists' predictions for first Edinburgh derby of season
We asked five of our sports journalists for their thoughts and predictions for tonight's Hearts v Hibs clash. Here's what they had to say ...
Anthony Brown: "Given Hearts’ results this season, their strong home form over the past year, and the fact Hibs haven’t won at Tynecastle for five and a half years, logic suggests Craig Levein’s team won’t lose this evening. The league leaders are not helped, however, by their array of injuries to key men, with the absence of Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu in particular leaving them short of quality options in attack. Much will depend, therefore, on how recent signings like Sean Clare and Craig Wighton deal with the occasion if thrown in from the start. After a testing summer, Hibs have found a good vein of form over the past two months and showed enough even in defeat at Celtic Park in their last outing to suggest they are a team moving in the right direction. With the likes of Ryan Porteous, Darren McGregor, Mark Milligan and derby specialist Marvin Bartley in their ranks, the Easter Road side boast enough physicality to ensure they shouldn’t be overpowered by a Hearts side whose midfield powerhouse Peter Haring is diminished by a hernia issue. The threat of the on-song Martin Boyle should ensure the visitors are capable of scoring at least once. Score draw for me."
Mark Atkinson: "It's not often I'd side with a Hibs win for a derby at Tynecastle, but I think this is a good opportunity for Neil Lennon's men to record their first victory in Gorgie since 2013. Much has been said about Hearts' injury situation - every team has them - but this current predicament for Craig Levein is extraordinary. Hibs are fresh and have played some of the best attacking football I've seen this season. Australian midfielder Mark Milligan is made for this kind of game and if Hearts' enforcer Peter Haring doesn't make it, the Hibs veteran could run proceedings in the engine room. I'm going for a narrow away win."
Patrick McPartlin: "Recent derbies at Tynecastle have been tight, cagey affairs and this game is unlikely to be vastly different. Despite injuries to some of Hearts’ key men, they still have a strong squad available across the park. Hibs have had the best part of ten days off since their last match but a rest isn’t always a benefit, and Hearts may find a rhythm more quickly having played two matches in the same period. Neil Lennon may feel the chance for a rare Hibs away win in the derby is greater than normal, but his side will have to be at their swashbuckling best to deliver a victory against a well-drilled and stubborn Hearts side."
Craig Fowler: "With so many players out and the quality of the opposition, Craig Levein will need to get his tactics spot on if Hearts are to win. However, the Jambos are always so strong at home regardless of circumstance and for that reason, I can see them containing a very good Hibs side. Score draw."
Peter Wales: "I'm always tempted to throw form and injury news out of the window when it comes to derbies. I recall a derby back in 2009 when a Hibs team filleted by injuries won 1-0 at Tynecastle at ridiculous odds. Often it is about which XI deals best with the conditions on the night. Home advantage has been so important in recent seasons for this fixture and I think it'll be the same again here. Tynecastle is a boisterous, intimidating arena when full and I expect both sets of fans to create a fine atmosphere. Hearts are not top of the league by accident and I still think they have the slightest of edges here. I think they'll win 1-0."