Our online team give their verdict on Wednesday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash between Hearts and Dundee at Tynecastle ...
Craig Fowler: Without Steven Naismith and with David Vanecek getting up to speed, alarm bells would normally be ringing for Hearts fans. The reason they aren’t, or at least shouldn’t, on this occasion is the identity of their opponent. Dundee were dreadfully poor in the opening half of the campaign and Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup – where the lower league visitors were the better team – would indicate that things haven’t much improved with some January additions. 2-0 Hearts.
Joel Sked: Normally the absence of Steven Naismith and Peter Haring would have Hearts fans worried. Very worried. Haring is that midfield safety blanket, Naismith the leader and conductor. Yet, they are up against Dundee. A very poor Dundee. The quality of their midfield is not nearly to the standard of Hearts’ and they will simply find it hard to put pressure on the Hearts backline. It is hard to see Hearts conceding. The Tynecastle side’s win over Livingston was ideal to get back up-and-running after the break with Sean Clare getting confidence and David Vanecek minutes. Hearts to win to nil.
Patrick McPartlin: Dundee have won just two league games all season - both against Hamilton - and face a Scottish Cup replay in Dumfries after coming from behind to record a draw with Queen of the South. On top of that, January signing Andrew Davies broke his foot just days after arriving at the club, so it’s fair to say luck is not on the Dens Park club’s side at the moment. Hearts are still without a couple of players, and the absence of Peter Haring and Steven Naismith will be a blow, but it’s hard to see the visitors leaving the Capital with anything to show for their efforts. Prediction: Hearts win.
Mark Atkinson: Hmmmm ... for the sake of variety, I’m trying to find a way of backing Dundee here, but I can’t. They are a wretched team right now. A lot of fans aren’t behind Jim McIntyre and their recent recruitment has been strange. It’ll be much easier for Hearts to impose themselves on Dundee in comparison to Livingston because the Dees are lightweight. Keep an eye on striker Kenny Miller and the clean sheet is sorted for the JTs. I can’t see Ryan Inniss et al stopping Hearts for 90 minutes, even if Steven Naismith is suspended. Cosy home win.
Anthony Brown: Having restored morale over the past month with three successive victories, Hearts look better equipped to cope with the absence of key duo Peter Haring and Steven Naismith than would have been the case during their struggles in November and early December. Sean Clare will be boosted by his first goal for the club, David Vanecek will be 90 minutes closer to full fitness after his debut on Sunday and Steven MacLean has had a few weeks to recharge his batteries following a gruelling couple of months. With midfielders Olly Lee and Arnaud Djoum in good form and the defence buoyed by three consecutive clean sheets, there is no obvious reason to expect a Hearts slip-up at home to one of the league’s weakest sides. Prediction: Hearts win.
Neil McGlade: This is the ideal fixture for Hearts to get their teeth stuck into as the second half of the Premiership campaign gets under way. The Jambos weren’t at their best against Livingston at the weekend but still had enough to advance to the next round of the cup. Sean Clare got the lift he needed with the winner and you get the feeling the Englishman could go on and really stamp his mark on both league and cup. Dundee are truly woeful and the best they can hope for is a point from the trip to the Capital – but even that is a long shot. The good news keeps coming with John Souttar in line to be included in the match-day squad. Prediction: Comfortable Hearts win.