'I never really fancy Hearts to score in any match': Journalists predictions for Hearts v Kilmarnock
Our online team try their best to predict the result from Saturday's match as Kilmarnock travel to Tynecastle in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Mark Atkinson: After an exhilarating derby victory and progression to the Betfred Cup semi-finals, it's going to be fascinating to see how Hearts cope with more mundane matters in the league. Such matches have proved testing for Craig Levein and his charges of late. There should be a more positive atmosphere around Tynecastle in light of recent results, but a defeat here - and perhaps even a draw - against an average Kilmarnock side will set the boos chorusing around Gorgie again. I often feel this current Hearts team toil with the pressure of playing at Tynecastle - this is the sort of game Hearts need to be winning if they harbour genuine aspirations of third place. Killie won't make it easy: they don't score many, but their defence is solid and they have a strong work ethic. Without defender Craig Halkett, I fear Hearts will be slightly diminished and it really wouldn't surprise me if the visitors take something back to Ayrshire. Prediction: Draw.
Neil McGlade: Despite the encouraging performances of Halkett this season, Hearts' defence has been porous. In his absence, I think we're about to see just how pivotal Halkett is to the side over the next few weeks, both defensively and in an attacking sense. I fully expected Hearts to take three points from last week's trip to St Mirren so the fact that they didn't still raises a question mark over their ability to grind out wins. Tynecastle hasn't been kind to the home side for quite some time now, the Jambos are long overdue a win in front of their own supporters. Kilmarnock are a difficult unit to break down, however they don't find the net too often either, just five goals in the league so far this season. I can't separate the sides on this occasion. Prediction: Draw
Anthony Brown: The ongoing weakening of the Hearts squad through a wretched run of long-term injuries is doing them no favours in their bid to get their campaign off the ground. With a full squad available, they would be hot favourites to see off a Kilmarnock side diminished since last term. As it is, it is hard to be particularly confident about their chances of a first home league victory in more than six months. The revitalised Uche Ikpeazu and Ryotaro Meshino currently represent their best hope of causing the visitors problems, while last weekend’s clean sheet against St Mirren should boost the confidence of a hitherto unconvincing defence. Prediction: Hearts 1 Kilmarnock 0
Patrick McPartlin: Kilmarnock have scored even fewer goals than Hibs, and while Hearts' home record hasn't been great in 2019, they've only failed to score at Tynecastle on three occasions in the league. Things look to be knitting together in Gorgie and last week's goalless draw at St Mirren was probably more to do with the mammoth effort put in to beat Hibs and then see off Aberdeen after extra time and penalties. After a rest this week, I'd expect Hearts to be firing on all cylinders. If Kilmarnock had shown signs of solving their attacking woes I'd be tempted to back a draw but I can see Hearts winning this 2-0 or 2-1. They have the players to do the damage up front and enough in defence to frustrate Killie. Prediction: Hearts win
Craig Fowler: In light of (another!) injury crisis, I'd have been backing several sides coming to Tynecastle this weekend to leave with all three points. However, I'm still not convinced by this Kilmarnock side. They're a strong and well-organised defensive unit, but they really don't have an awful lot in attack (I'm still giggling about Eamonn Brophy playing for Scotland). Halkett will be a miss but his defensive influence has been overstated this season and I still believe it's more than possible than the defence can keep a clean sheet in his absence. I never really fancy Hearts to score in any match these days, but I reckon there will be just enough in the side to grind out a 1-0 win. Prediction: Hearts