'Livingston is a tremendously difficult place to go' - Journalists' predictions for Livingston v Hearts
Our online team try to correctly predict the result on Saturday as Hearts travel to Livingston on Ladbrokes Premiership duty
Aside from the Kilmarnock home game three weeks ago, Hearts have generally done well over the past month.
For all their struggles at Tynecastle, they have looked a more solid proposition away from home this term, with victories at Easter Road and Fir Park and a decent showing at St Mirren, which should have yielded a win, on their most recent road trip.
A combination of Hearts’ current league position and memories of their last visit to West Lothian should ensure there is no complacency in the visitors’ ranks. If they apply themselves correctly, they should have enough about them to leave with at least a point. Prediction: Draw
I had to laugh at Craig Levein saying he felt like Hearts' luck was turning on the injury front, seeing as they go into this weekend's game with Livingston with two further first-team players out injured - Aidy White and Jake Mulraney - and none of the long-term absentees set to return.
The silver lining on this occasion is that neither player has been particularly great this season and there should still be enough depth left in the squad to put in a performance similar to the one we witnessed against Rangers last weekend.
If Uche Ikpeazu can give the away defence trouble, if Glenn Whelan can show his experience in midfield, if Michael Smith can hold the defence together, and Ryo Meshino can produce a moment of magic, then the visitors can get a result. Prediction: Draw
Hearts showed a marked improvement in last week’s 1-1 draw with Rangers, a performance that supporters have been craving really since the season began.
It merely underlined that Levein does have the tools at his disposal, if he uses them wisely. This weekend’s opposition Livingston, though, are notoriously difficult to break down on their own patch - they did take the scalp of Celtic just a few weeks ago too - so Hearts can expect a real battle at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Things can’t get any worse for the visitors in West Lothian than they did last December surely? I don’t think it will be pretty but I fancy the Jambos to come away with a share of the spoils. Prediction: Draw.
I was impressed by Hearts against Rangers and how they performed against a slick Ibrox outfit. While it might have been another winless result at Tynecastle, there were a lot of positives in the performance although the injuries to Jake Mulraney and Aidy White are a further headache Craig Levein doesn't need as he attempts to assemble a squad for the trip to West Lothian.
Livingston have taken some by surprise this season and former Hibs midfielder Marvin Bartley has played a big part in the Lions' form so far this season. He'll be relishing a crack at Hearts having enjoyed the derby tussles in his Easter Road days, and he could be pivotal to the outcome of the game.
However, for all their injuries and bad luck, there's a doggedness about Hearts this season that I think stands them in good stead. A win would be vital and much-needed but I think it'll be a ding-dong battle with the spoils shared. Prediction: Draw
It is all well and good raising their game for a home match against Rangers, it is the next two fixtures which will reveal a lot about lessons being learned by the Hearts players.
Livingston is a tremendously difficult place to go - as the team found out on their last visit - before a trip to St Johnstone and a ground which has proved tricky for the Tynecastle side.
Despite losing five of their last six, Livi have largely been playing well and will put Craig Levein's side under pressure - both in terms of direct play and getting in the faces of the midfield.
Uche Ikpeazu will have to be at his terrorising best to pin the home side back, while the midfield will have to muck in and compete, winning battles before playing football. Levein is set to change the team again following injuries with Jake Mulraney and possibly Aidy White unavailable. Prediction: Livingston win.