Gary Mackay: Key men vital for Hearts to prove who is No.1 in Edinburgh

Winning at Arbroath was vital for Hearts but now there is the welcome distraction of a Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs. I think everyone is eager for this tie to come round.

By Gary Mackay
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Michael Smith is one of Hearts' most influential players for the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Michael Smith is one of Hearts' most influential players for the Scottish Cup semi-final.

Friday night panned out exactly how I expected because, after Hearts beat Dundee 6-2, there was no way Arbroath were going to open up and attack. Getting the three points at Gayfield was important as it takes us to six points and keeps a 100 per cent record in the league.

However, it's great for the players to have the distraction of a Scottish Cup semi-final this weekend. Saturday is a totally different occasion in totally different surroundings compared to Arbroath.

Regardless what league anybody is in, there shouldn't be any extra motivation needed. It's an Edinburgh derby with a Scottish Cup final place the reward for the winners. I think there will just be a huge motivation for the simple reason it's Hearts against Hibs.

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Hearts have beaten Hibs in a Scottish Cup final, a semi-final, there was the famous ‘Wayne Foster’ derby at Easter Road in the cup, so the supporters have great memories of these games. It would be nice if we could add another positive memory this time.

Hibs have good experience in their ranks but I think it helps Hearts that they have a lot of knowledge in good areas of the pitch. None more so than Michael Smith, who empitomises that experience and professionalism at right-back.

As a manager, if you had seven or eight of him in your team every week then you would be more than happy. These 'Mr Reliable' types are so important and Michael will certainly be important on Saturday to drive the team on.

The front area is also interesting because of injuries and the fact Steven Naismith hasn't played much. Craig Wighton came on and scored the goal to win the Arbroath game. Incidentally, I was disappointed there wasn't more praise for the quality of his goal afterwards.

I thought his first touch to set himself up for the lob was exquisite, taking down Michael Smith’s pass. Likewise, the lob itself over the keeper and into the net was superb and well worth watching for any young forward. I thought the quality Wighton showed was really impressive.

He will be thinking he might get an opportunity to start in the semi-final now, but the manager might think differently. Robbie could look at it in the context of: 'Great, I know I've got somebody who can come off the bench and make an impact.' So Wighton might have to deal with that.

When you know there are international players in the striking positions and you are coming on to replace them or help them, you sometimes have to accept it. I think Wighton will take some solace knowing it's internationalists in front of him.

After what happened over the summer with Hearts being demoted, it would be nice to show once again who is the No.1 club in the city.

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