'It could be a long afternoon at Tynecastle' - Journalists' predictions for Hearts v Rangers
Our online team try to correctly predict the result on Sunday as Hearts host Rangers on Ladbrokes Premiership duty
Hearts' record - and also that of their manager Craig Levein - against Rangers is poor. However, this is a good time to play the Gers.
Their momentum has been stalled by the international break. At Ibrox, Rangers are a ferocious, voracious team, but away from home they can often struggle to get it all their own way.
Hearts' ranks have been bolstered by the return of a few key players, but will that be enough to get a result. Probably not - but I do think Hearts will run Steven Gerrard's men pretty close before going down to a narrow defeat. Prediction: Rangers win
If Christophe Berra, Michael Smith, Glenn Whelan, Peter Haring, Ryotaro Meshino and Uche Ikpeazu are all able to play at their best and rouse their team-mates enough to play in a high-tempo, aggressive fashion - similar to the way they have approached games against Celtic in recent times - then Hearts should at least be able to compete with their rampant visitors.
There is no guarantee that will happen, however. The likelier outcome is that Rangers, refreshed from having no game for a fortnight, will seize control of the match, pop the ball about in an authoratitive manner and ultimately have too much quality for their hosts to contend with. Prediction: Rangers win
Steven Naismith may play, Steven Naismith may not play, it doesn't seem to matter. I don't have a great deal of confidence in this Hearts team winning this weekend, as it's the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders who are coming to Gorgie.
Gerrard's men have netted 14 league goals in their last three league games without reply and will be rested with the majority of their players staying at home during the international break.
Alfredo Morelos is one of the few who travelled, but as he's going up against a patchwork defensive unit that's missing its two strongest centre-backs in Craig Halkett and John Souttar, tiredness shouldn't be much of an issue for the striker who is likely to victimise the Hearts back-line all afternoon. Prediction: Rangers to win - comfortably.
I usually talk up the Gorgie men's chances whenever Rangers are in town but not this time. The home side just can't buy a win at Tynecastle for love nor money, irrespective of the opposition.
Steven Gerrard's players are a different animal this term, and now they have assumed their position at the top of the Premiership, they fully intend to remain there.
The return of Haring in particular, should he play, will beef up the Hearts midfield but Levein's biggest concern is how an already fragile defence will cope with the movement and finesse of the visitors' attack spearheaded by Morelos. Prediction: Rangers win
Lunchtime kick-offs can sometimes throw up a surprise result, but barring something truly exceptional, I can't see Rangers tripping up in the Capital. Hearts are missing key players in defence and attack while Rangers have an embarrassment of riches.
Even if Alfredo Morelos doesn't feature owing to his international exploits, Jermain Defoe is a more than capable replacement while there is strength in depth across the park for the Gers. It would be a big ask for Hearts to get a result with a full-strength side, and I suspect Rangers will prove too strong.
Hearts can be a little bit Jekyll and Hyde, however - I wouldn't put it past them to make life difficult for the Gers.
However, the title-challenge sub-plot will most likely see Rangers looking to increase their lead at the top of the table, or re-overtake Celtic - both scenarios giving them plenty of reason to go into this match all guns blazing. Prediction: Rangers win
Confidence among Hearts fans is at a low going into Sunday's game against the league leaders - who may be second by the time of kick off. There has been no home league win since March, while Craig Levein's comments about possession didn't go down well among the home support.
The expected return of Steven Naismith will unlikely materialise however Peter Haring may be back and Levein could be tempted to play him in defence. He is well stocked in the centre of the pitch but not so much at the back with Craig Halkett and John Souttar out.
The visitors are averaging over three goals a game and over 20 shots a game. It could be a long afternoon at Tynecastle on Sunday. Prediction: Rangers win.