Joel Sked analyses a disappointing afternoon at Tynecastle for the league leaders.
The zest is missing
The tempo, zest and panache which took Hearts to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership has gone awry. In the first couple of months of the season the Tynecastle side would have found a way to overcome stuffy opposition like Kilmarnock - as they did at Rugby Park. Under Steve Clarke the Ayrshire side are a very tough nut to crack at the best of times but when missing key attacking individuals like Hearts are it becomes even more difficult. With so many injuries the team the team is markedly different without Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu. Steven MacLean for instance had developed a fine relationship with the pair. The trio, or one of the supporting cast, previously found the combination to unlock obdurate opposition. A temporary set of keys are required.
What hernia issue?
It was impossible to tell that Peter Haring was playing with a hernia problem. The Austrian was imperious in the centre of midfield. One minute he was breaking up play deep in his half, the next moment he was sweeping the ball out to Ben Garuccio then playing one-twos at the edge of the Killie box. The 25-year-old is not a defensive midfielder, he’s far more than that. With so many key players missing his presence in the centre is vital. And Craig Levein has played it safe by giving the captaincy to a player who is already carrying a knock.
Lee on the left
Craig Levein stuck with his preferred 4-4-2 with one centre midfielder tucked in on the left and Callumn Morrison stretching play on the right. However, a surprise was sprung when Olly Lee took that position and Arnaud Djoum was moved centrally. It didn't quite come to fruition. There were moments in the first half where Lee drifted in and combined well with his midfield colleagues, while the Cameroonian grew slowly into it. The second half saw Lee fade from the match completely, while Djoum was loose with his passing. It was a worthwhile experiment after Djoum impressed when moved into the centre against Celtic but it may not be one which is repeated too soon.