'An evening which could see a surprise': Journalists' predictions for Motherwell v Hearts

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Our online team try to predict the result as the Tynecastle side travel to Motherwell looking to book a place in the next round of the League Cup.

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Mark Atkinson: Craig Levein has not messed around this week, bringing in a new goalkeeper and midfielder to strengthen his squad. The pressure is on Hearts now to deliver. This squad, on paper, is strong enough to beat Motherwell and make the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup. Football, however, never works out that way. Joel Pereira is a bit of an unknown quantity, while Glenn Whelan won't solve the creativity issues Hearts have right now. With Steven Naismith very unlikely to play, Hearts will be without one of their leaders and we all know that Hearts are better with him in the team. Motherwell are a good cup team. They are organised, aggressive, motivated and will relish playing Levein's side under the lights. It might go all the way to penalties, but I think Motherwell will be in the hat for the last eight.

Charles Dunne and Sean Clare battle for possession the last time Hearts faced Motherwell at Fir Park.

Charles Dunne and Sean Clare battle for possession the last time Hearts faced Motherwell at Fir Park.

Anthony Brown: Pressure is on Levein following an unconvincing start to the season but the recent spate of eye-catching transfer business should have some form of galvanising effect on a Hearts side which now looks stronger on paper than it has done for several years. If the majority of their players perform to their capabilities, they should win the game. Against a Motherwell side with a ferocious team ethic, however, it may not be that straightforward. Prediction: A tight game which could be decided by penalties.

Craig Fowler: No Naismith and, if Saturday's draw against Ross County was anything to go by, no clue of how to create chances against a well organised defensive set-up. Fans travelling to Fir Park tonight will be going out of hope rather than expectation as the pre-season optimism has already evaporated following a so-so Betfred Cup group showing and the failure to win either of their first two league games. The signing of Pereira was made to help settle the defence, but seeing as he'll be playing in front of a back-line he only met a couple of days ago, don't expect an immediate turnaround in that regard. Prediction: Motherwell win.

Neil McGlade: It's incredible how things can turn so quickly. Booed off after a turgid performance against Ross County last weekend, suddenly there is a wave of euphoria among the Hearts support following some much-needed squad reinforcements (if social media is anything to go by). Whelan is a real coup for the club while the arrival Pereira in goal should ease Levein's growing concerns in that area. Victory at Fir Park would see the Jambos into the last eight of the Betfred Cup but Motherwell are a tough nut to crack on their own patch. Stephen Robinson will also be looking for his players to atone for last weekend's heavy defeat to Celtic. Prediction: Hearts to sneak it.

Patrick McPartlin: This could be a stonker of a game under the lights at Fir Park. Motherwell have had a decent start to the season and have bought well while Hearts will be looking for a positive result after a narrow loss and a goalless draw in their opening two league games. The Steelmen are no easy opponent at home and Stephen Robinson's side will be well-drilled. However, I think the arrival of a couple of new faces at Tynecastle could give Hearts the edge in this one - via extra time and penalties if necessary. Prediction: Hearts to go through

Joel Sked: No Naismith, fans agitated and Levein under pressure. Whisper it quietly but it is set up for one of those evenings, under the lights and in front of the BT Sport cameras, which could see a surprise. A new goalkeeper between the sticks may spread composure to the rest of the defence after Zdenek Zlamal's jittery performances of late, while Whelan, a man with more than 275 Premier League appearances plus 82 international caps, should bring a calming influence to the midfield. The veteran midfielder will unlikely take kindly to seeing the ball sailing over his head. Alongside Loic Damour there should be plenty more steel in the middle, while Uche Ikpeazu's drop in form should see him replaced with an energetic front line. All that is of course in complete contrast to what has been delivered in several months and Motherwell are a good side with exciting and attacking talents, but one which is still gelling. Prediction: Draw - Hearts to win on penalties.

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