‘What a game this will be’ - Journalists’ predictions for Hibs v Motherwell

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Our online team give their predictions ahead of Saturday’s meeeting between Hibs and Motherwell at Easter Road

Mark Atkinson

Paul Hanlon and Curtis Main will meet again on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group

Paul Hanlon and Curtis Main will meet again on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group

I would have predicted a home win had it not been for centre-half Darren McGregor’s suspension. He played very well against Rangers and his physicality against the rumbustious Curtis Main will be missed. Mark Milligan will move from midfield to replace him and that creates a problem for Hibs, as the Australian has been in good form as an anchor midfielder and isn’t as adept in defence. Marvin Bartley is off the boil right now, so whether he comes in to midfield is debatable. Motherwell’s midfield tyro David Turnbull needs addressing and Hibs must cut the supply to wingers Gboly Ariyibi and Jake Hastie. Of course, Hibs have their own threats in Flo Kamberi and Marc McNulty, so a score draw is on the cards. I’ll stick my neck on the line and say this is going to be a humdinger that will end 2-2 or 3-3. Prediction: Draw

Anthony Brown

For all that Hibs have improved in the league under Paul Heckingbottom recently, they are yet to beat a team in the type of form that Motherwell have shown since the turn of year. The Edinburgh side felt the force of Stephen Robinson’s resurgent team in Neil Lennon’s last match in charge in January and should be under no illusions about the level of performance they will have to reach if they are to have a chance of picking up three points this weekend. Marc McNulty, one of the league’s form strikers, could be the difference-maker in what promises to be a tight encounter. Prediction: Hibs win

Craig Fowler

I don’t have a good feeling about this one for Hibs. While ‘new manager bounce’ is a bit of a myth in terms of it being an effect for all situations, there’s no doubt certain teams get a lift from a new manager coming in with fresh ideas. Hibs got that with Paul Heckingbottom but, even though their last two games could scarcely have been harder against both Celtic and Rangers, the way the hosts approached both games should provide cause for concern. Motherwell, meanwhile, are on a roll and with David Turnbull excelling as one of the best midfielders in the league, regardless of age, they’ve got the tools to expose Hibs. Prediction: Motherwell win

Neil McGlade

This is a huge game for both clubs make no mistake about it. Hibs are currently in pole position for a top-six finish but have this weekend’s visitors breathing down their necks. A win for the hosts would open up a five-point gap, should St Johnstone also fail to beat St Mirren, with just three matches remaining before the split. It would be a huge psychological boost for Paul Heckingbottom and his players. Defeat, however, would pass the baton back to the Steelmen. I expect a few goals in this one with Hibs just shading it. Prediction: Hibs win

Patrick McPartlin

You’d have to go back to August 2013 for the last time Motherwell won in Leith, and I can see their winless streak continuing, with Paul Heckingbottom having moulded his team into a hardy defensive unit when required, as evidenced against Rangers last week. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses and the arrival of Gael Bigirimana at Easter Road could prove useful in identifying Motherwell’s weak spots. It would be foolish to dismiss the talents of David Turnbull and Jake Hastie, however - especially against a makeshift Hibs defence - but the Hibees’ determination to seal a top six spot should make this an intriguing encounter. Prediction: Score draw

Joel Sked

The game of the weekend and what a game it is set to be. At half-time of the draw with Rangers last Friday it was understandable if fans had some early concerns regarding Paul Heckingbottom. The manager had continued with the same 4-4-2 formation - albeit with Stevie Mallan in place of Vykintas Slivka - that failed to lay a glove on Celtic. It was overrun by Steven Gerrard’s men. But the Englishman changed it and in the end Hibs could have won. Motherwell are one of the few teams in the league on an upward trajectory with seven wins from nine. A lot has been made of young Scots Jake Hastie and David Turnbull - and rightly so - but Gboly Ariyibi, on loan from Nottingham Forest, has been a really exciting addition and was key in the 3-0 thumping of Hamilton last week. He could cause David Gray all sorts of problems if given the chance to run at the full-back again and again. It is one of a number of fascinating battles across the pitch. Easter Road is the place to be on Saturday to see an entertaining game. Prediction: Draw