Gary Mackay: Vital that Hearts stick with the Armand Gnanduillet-Liam Boyce partnership

Playing with two recognised strikers is what a lot of supporters like to see and it certainly helps Hearts in their quest to score goals.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 7:00 am
Hearts strikers Liam Boyce and Armand Gnanduillet.

People say the football hasn’t been fluent of late and you can’t really argue with that, but having two strikers on the pitch does make a difference. I’ve certainly enjoyed watching Armand Gnanduillet and Liam Boyce together in the last two matches against Dundee and Ayr United.

The two-man attack occupies other team’s defenders, allows you to get up the pitch and means you are a goal threat when the ball comes into the penalty box.

As a forward, you have support when the ball comes forward because there is another guy playing round about you. So you don’t need to wait on your midfield arriving the way a lone striker would because he would be asked to hold the ball in.

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Also, from a defensive point of view, you have two strikers who can split to stop the opposition building from the back. The other team then have to kick the ball longer and you can try to win the battle from there.

I can understand partly why Gnanduillet was kept on the bench for a few weeks if he just had to get up to speed. That’s a perfectly normal situation, meaning it was always going to take time for him to develop an understanding with Boyce.

Both of these lads look like natural goalscorers. If a cross comes in, they will both have the instinct to go for it. You would much rather have that than have two guys waiting to see if someone else fancied attacking the ball.

That should encourage players to put the ball into the box earlier and hopefully the Hearts lads will do that from now on.

From the position I played, guys like John Robertson, Sandy Clark, Jimmy Bone and Jim Hamilton were the forwards in front of me. The midfield knew as soon as the ball went up to these guys that they would hold it in.

There is nothing better as an attacking midfield player than knowing the strikers can use their bodies to keep the ball in the final third. Then the creative players can express themselves from there.

Everyone who watches Hearts will be keen to see the Gnanduillet-Boyce pairing flourish during the rest of this campaign.

There are seven games left for us and the league campaign certainly isn’t done, although everybody else would need to be almost perfect in their result while we would need a complete slump to lose the title now.

Dunfermline and Raith Rovers are the main two teams chasing us and that’s been the case for most of the season. All credit to them being up there given the budgets they have.

Hearts should always be aware of them but it’s not a case of looking over our shoulders with only a few games to go. It’s all about looking forward, being as positive as we can be and getting the title wrapped up.

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