Comparing Hearts' campaign so far to this time last season

Hearts have improved drastically on last season.
Hearts have improved drastically on last season.
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Before the season got underway few would have predicted Hearts to be sitting top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a Betfred Cup semi-final to look forward at the second international break.

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We compare the campaign so far with the same point last season:

Position

17/18 - 7th

18/19 - 1st

Points

17/18 - 9

18/19 - 19

Goals

17/18 - 7

18/19 - 14

Conceded

17/18 - 10

18/19 - 6

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Cup performances

17/18 - Hearts, under Ian Cathro, were the only Premiership side to exit the Betfred Cup at the group stages. In the first competitive game of the season, the Tynecastle men won 1-0 in Elgin and that was followed up with a 3-0 success at home to East Fife.

However, defeat to League Two Peterhead set up a must-win clash with Dunfermline Athletic. A last-gasp miss from Cole Stockton saw the game finish 2-2 and Hearts exited the competition. However, they had to suffer the indignity of a penalty shootout for an extra bonus point. But lost that also with Don Cowie, Jordan McGhee and Malaury Martin all missing penalties.

18/19 - This year's Betfred Cup wasn't without incident. Following a 2-1 win over Cove Rangers it was discovered that midfielder Andy Irving, who came on as a second-half substitute, was ineligible. A two-point deduction and £10,000 fine was the club's punishment. A 1-1 draw followed against Raith Rovers with Hearts winning the bonus point on penalties.

The club secured their passage into with back-to-back 5-0 wins over Inverness CT and Cowdenbeath.

A narrow 1-0 win at Dunfermline thanks to an Olly Lee strike before a 4-2 win against Motherwell in a frenetic encounter at Tynecastle saw the team progress to their first semi-final since 2014 where they will face Celtic at Murrayfield.

Attendances

17/18 - 24,248 - Hearts only played one 'home' game by this time last season in the league. A goalless draw with Aberdeen at Murrayfield.

18/19 - 17,966 - The third highest in the league

Top scorers

17/18 - Kyle Lafferty (7) - Four in the Betfred Cup, three in the league.

18/19 - Steven Naismith (9) - Four in the Betfred Cup and five in the league, including a hat-trick against St Mirren.

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Key players

17/18 - There were two individuals who were keeping, and would keep, Hearts competitive throughout the season. Christophe Berra marhsalled the defence, while Lafferty provided a consistent goal threat.

18/19 - Unlike last season there is not just one or two players who stand out. Instead there is a spine of a team which have helped take Hearts to the top of the league. In particular, John Souttar has grown into a commanding centre-back, Peter Haring is a robust figure in the midfield, while Steven Naismith has provided the team with goals, big-game intelligence and flexibility in attack.

Summer signings and their influence:

17/18 - It was a mixed bag in terms of recruitment. Berra was one of the signings of the season in the league. His presence in the middle of defence was vital throughout the season in helping Hearts into the top six, while Lafferty was a goalscoring striker the club had missed.

Jon McLaughlin and Michael Smith were both steady signings who would, in time, go on to prove themselves as key individuals.

The left-back position was not filled until January with both Rafal Grzelak and Ashley Smith-Brown struggling.

18/19 - There was a massive overhaul in the summer with 17 new signings. The majority have either had a very positive or decent impact. The aforementioned Haring and Olly Lee have cultivated a fine midfield partnership and behind them Jimmy Dunne has lessened the blow of losing Berra to a long-term injury.

Concerns over the goalkeeping situation have been put to bed with the dependable performances of Zdenek Zlamal.

In attack Hearts are a different proposition with Uche Ikpeazu, Steven MacLean and Naismith all complementing one another.

With so many signings not all were going to succeed instantly but it has worked better than many predicted.

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