St Mirren v Hearts preview: 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1? Clare to start? Where to watch on TV

Hearts travel to Paisley on Saturday afternoon to face St Mirren in bouyant mood.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 2:55 pm
Hearts recorded a penalty shoot-out win against Aberdeen. Picture: SNS

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Hearts manager Craig Levein has given himself a chance to turn the tide - now he...

After a real struggle to start the season Craig Levein's men have produced two heartening displays, defeating Hibs at Easter Road and following it up with progression to the Betfred Cup semi-final with a penalty shoot-out win at Tynecastle over Aberdeen after scoring a late equaliser in normal time.

It has lifted some of the pressure around the Hearts boss and has injected confidence into the team as they look to record back to back wins for the first time in the league since the start of February.

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There is talk of a corner being turned at Tynecastle but it is still far too early to give a definitive answer as to whether it has or hasn't.

What Saturday will bring though is an indication if Hearts are on the right path. Defeat will mean back to square one with Kilmarnock coming to Gorgie next weekend.

With Callumn Morrison and Michael Smith back Levein now has options, as seen with his switching between a back three, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2.

They will face stern opposition in Paisley. All St Mirren's games in the league have been either a draw or settled by one goal.

While they may not have a lot of attacking threat they are stuffy and well organised under the stewardship of Jim Goodwin.

Team news

Craig Levein will unlikely be able to call on the likes of Steven Naismith, Peter Haring, John Souttar and Jamie Walker. All are said to be improving but not yet ready to return to first-team action.

Possible Hearts line-up

3-4-2-1 - Periera; Smith, Halkett, Berra; Hickey, Damour, Whelan, Mulraney; Meshino, Clare; Ikpeazu. Subs from: Doyle, Dikamona, Brandon, White, Bozanic, Irving, Irving, MacLean, Morrison, Henderson, Keena.

Magic number

238 - By the time Hearts kick-off in Paisley it will be 238 days since they last won two league games in succession.

Key battle

In the second half of the Edinburgh derby and against Aberdeen it was clear to see Uche Ikpeazu was getting back to his chaotic best. He was charging about, being a real focal point for the team and unnerving defenders. On Saturday he will go up against Kirk Broadfoot and Sean McLoughlin. Both have shown themselves to be canny operators. However, they will not fancy taking on someone with Uche's physique and mobility. If he can occupy the centre-backs, forcing them to drop deep it will hopefully open up space for Ryotaro Meshino to get on the ball outside the box.

What Craig Levein said:

“Two swallows don’t make a summer. I hope we get to 48 or something like that," he said regarding the recent upturn.

Referee

Andrew Dallas will take charge of a game involving Hearts for the first time since December 2018.

Where to watch

With a 3pm kick-off the game is not available on TV, nor is it available on HeartsTV for online subscribers at the time of writing. Live audio commentary, however, is available from the Simple Digital Arena.

Odds

St Mirren 27/10 Draw 12/5 Hearts 1/1