'Hearts can maintain the feelgood factor' - Journalists' predictions for Hearts v Rangers
Our online team give their verdict on the Saturday lunchtime Ladbrokes Premiership clash between Hearts and Rangers at Tynecastle Park
Mark AtkinsonThere will be an air of excitement around Tynecastle now that the Scottish Cup final spot has been secured. Manager Craig Levein will want to use the remaining league matches as means to garner momentum before that big day in May. With that in mind, I expect a driven, motivated home side. Rangers are playing well and have beaten Hearts on every occasion this season. However, that won’t happen here. Prediction: score draw.
Anthony BrownHearts are invariably at their intensive best when at home to the bigger clubs in the league, namely Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hibs. Although they lost their first home game against the Ibrox side, they were the better team for the first half hour, at a time when they were without some key players. With Rangers missing their two best attackers, Hearts, buoyed by reaching the Scottish Cup final, can maintain the feelgood factor. Prediction: Hearts win
Craig FowlerI've been pretty pessimistic when it's come to Hearts in recent weeks - not without good reason, I should add. However, I've got a good feeling about this weekend's match. Hearts have played both Celtic and Rangers well at Tynecastle this season, winning one match and losing the other two by a single goal. The 2-1 defeat to Rangers also occurred without Uche Ikpeazu in the Hearts side. If they can match the most recent performance they showed against Celtic then they should definitely have enough to get a result against the team 11 points off Neil Lennon's side in the league table, especially with both Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent unavailable. Prediction: Hearts win
Neil McGladeA week is a long time in football. The doom and gloom of a derby defeat has been replaced by euphoria and anticipation ahead of next month's Scottish Cup final showdown with Celtic. Hearts fully deserved the win at Hampden last week with a strong second-half performance. That victory will have done wonders for confidence with some big games in the league still to negotiate. Finishing third is well within their reach should they pick up maximum points against Rangers at Tynecastle this weekend. The season really can't end soon enough for Steven Gerrard's side and I think the hosts will capitalise. Prediction: Hearts win (Take note Peter Haring).
Patrick McPartlinHearts will still be on a high after reaching the Scottish Cup final, and in front of a bumper crowd at Tynecastle, will want to record a good result in the race for Europe. Peter Haring is an injury doubt and his presence in the midfield would be a boost, but even without the big Austrian, Craig Levein has plenty of midfield bodies who can deputise. Rangers are playing to strengthen their grip on second, and are unbeaten against Hearts this season. They've also lost just two of their last ten away matches - to Celtic and Kilmarnock - while posting consecutive 3-0 wins in their last two. However, they have been inconsistent at times and are without Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos. While at first glance this match looks like an away win, I reckon a draw is more likely. Prediction: Draw
Joel SkedAttention at Tynecastle will be taken by the upcoming Scottish Cup final. With Aidan Keena and Callumn Morrison out for the season Craig Levein won't want to lose any other players to injury. Yet, there is a chance to go level with or close the gap to Hibs ahead of next's weeks derby making this an important game. The team were let down by officials the last time Steven Gerrard's men came to Tynecastle. An early afternoon kickoff on a Saturday should see a raucous Tynecastle especially off the back of last week's semi final win. Prediction: Draw.