Hibs: What needs to happen for Easter Road side to secure top-six berth?

Hibs make the short trip to Tynecastle today to face rivals Hearts in the final round of Scottish Premiership fixtures before the split.
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But it’s not just events in Gorgie that could influence the top and bottom half of the top flight. The Dundee derby, Aberdeen’s match against Ross County, Motherwell’s trip to Livingston, and the Sunday game in Paisley between St Mirren and Rangers could all influence the Easter Road side’s final five fixtures as well as deciding the top six.

Seven teams separated by just four points are fighting for three places. Celtic, Rangers, and Hearts already know in what half their final matches will take place but the teams in fourth place through tenth – Dundee United, Motherwell, Hibs, Ross County, Livingston, Aberdeen, and St Mirren.

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It is possible that the team who finishes in fifth place could also be playing European football next season so there is an extra incentive for the seven clubs.

Shaun Maloney believes his side can get a much-needed result at TynecastleShaun Maloney believes his side can get a much-needed result at Tynecastle
Shaun Maloney believes his side can get a much-needed result at Tynecastle

What do Hibs have to do?

It couldn’t be simpler for Hibs – they have to record a victory against their Capital rivals to ensure a top-six finish.

They are unbeaten at Tynecastle since May 2018, and have won two of their last five away derbies, while the two previous Edinburgh derbies this season have finished in goalless draws.

Would a draw be enough?

A point for Hibs would be enough to secure top-six football but they would need a few results to go their way elsewhere.

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Ross County and Aberdeen would need to draw, and anything other than a Livingston victory at home to Motherwell would also help.

The maximum number of points St Mirren can get is 39 if they beat Rangers but their goal difference would be inferior to Hibs’ and given their current form, it would be a big ask while St Johnstone, only six points behind, will be looking to avoid the relegation play-off spot so the Buddies are fighting on two fronts.

If Hibs lose, are they out of the top six?

Not necessarily. Hibs are currently on 38 points but if they lose narrowly at Tynecastle, they could still finish in the top half if Ross County and Aberdeen share the points, and Rangers and Motherwell avoid defeat at St Mirren and Livingston respectively.

Dundee United’s result in the Dundee derby won’t have an impact if the other matches finish in draws.

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Even allowing for goal difference, a Hibs defeat and draws in the other final pre-split games would leave the top six looking something like this:

Celtic, Rangers, and Hearts in the top three positions followed by Dundee United on 43/41 points, Motherwell on 42/40, and Hibs on 38.

So really Hibs need to win?

Three points at Tynecastle would save a lot of sweating and anxiety both on the pitch and in the Roseburn Stand.

Hibs are the only team of the seven that haven’t recorded a league win in their last five. Just one defeat in nine will give them confidence but they will ideally be looking to avoid drawing and relying on results elsewhere.

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Motherwell have won one of their last five – last weekend’s victory over St Mirren – while Livingston are on a run of three consecutive defeats, but shouldn’t be underestimated.

The clash in Dingwall between Ross County and Aberdeen could end up being a ripsnorter, with both teams knowing only a win will do.

Hibs’ fate is very much in their own hands.

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