Our online team give their verdict on Saturday’s Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership clash between Hearts and Hibs at Tynecastle...
Despite their excellent run of form under Paul Heckingbottom, Hibs have yet to face a serious test of their credentials away from Easter Road. They will get that at Tynecastle, a ground they have not won at since 2013. Hearts may be a little creatively-challenged right now, but at home in front of a pumped-up support, they will make life very uncomfortable for their visitors. Hibs were far from free-flowing against Kilmarnock and I wonder if their midfield and attack have enough guile to break down Hearts. I think the hosts will nick this 1-0 with a goal from a set-piece. Prediction: Hearts win
While Hibs are clearly in the better form of the two, Hearts showed last weekend against Aberdeen that they remain capable of rising to the big occasion at home. Craig Levein’s team possess extra power in midfield which could allow them to seize the upper hand and snuff out the supply to Hibs’ main threat, Marc McNulty, a feat Kilmarnock achieved at Easter Road on Wednesday. Uche Ikpeazu has excelled in his last two big matches at Tynecastle - against Celtic and Aberdeen - and, assuming he is fit to start, the bustling Hearts striker looks perfectly equipped to feed off the scraps on offer and thrive amid the chaos of his first Edinburgh derby. Prediction: Hearts win
At the start of this season I predicted that each Edinburgh team would win a derby match away from home and I haven’t seen much to make me change that prediction. Hearts showed against Aberdeen that they remain a match for anyone at Tynecastle, but they’re also overly reliant on Uche Ikpeazu, who should start but isn’t a certainty to after suffering a head knock in the aforementioned victory over the Dons. If he’s less than 100 per cent, or if Hibs find a way to lessen his impact on the game, then the hosts will struggle to get anything going in attack. Hibs, meanwhile, are still riding the crest of a wave since Paul Heckingbottom took over and will go into this with high confidence. Prediction: Hibs win
Predicting the outcome in this one? You may as well flip a coin. Hearts tend to be favourites whenever their city rivals cross town, even in times where Hibs have been better on the eye, have more wins under their belt etc etc. The Jambos always find a way to raise their game, or at least snuff out the the Easter Road side’s main threat. Yes the hosts are likely to have Uche Ikpeazu back leading the line, Hibs will be expecting his return. But he can’t beat Paul Heckingbottom’s men single-handedly. Hibs carry a greater threat going forward and if they can win their individual battles, I see Edinburgh being bathed in green and white this weekend. Prediction: Hibs win.
Edinburgh derbies are rarely the multi-goal, action-packed ripsnorters everyone hopes for. That’s not to say there hasn’t been drama - red cards, ghost goals, late winners and even later equalisers can attest to that - but the chances of a back-and-forth 4-3 game, or even a 2-2 draw, seem remote at best. There’s no point looking at form because everyone knows it’s a poor indicator of how a derby plays out. Instead, we’ll likely be served up a cagey, attritional fixture reminiscent of the stand-off scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Except in this remake, the Man With No Name won’t ever take his shot, and there’ll be more “ugly” than “good” on display across the 90 minutes. Prediction: Draw
The Edinburgh derby. Football’s burial ground. Those turning up to Tynecastle or tuning in at home will likely know not to expect a scintillating game of football but there should be entertainment. The steady, consistent progress of Paul Heckingbottom’s Hibs travel to face Craig Levein’s stuttering Hearts. Since the Englishman’s arrival at Easter Road they have clawed back ten points on their rivals and have the perfect chance to end their recent hex against Hearts in Gorgie and jump up them, putting a marker down for the top six and a run at third. Hearts need the three points so both players and fans are going into the Scottish Cup semi final against Inverness CT on a high. The battle between Uche Ikpeazu and Darren McGregor should be fascinating. If there is a winner out of that duel then that could decide the game, while a potential return for Michael Smith would be huge for Hearts. That being said it is hard to separate the teams. Prediction: Draw.