Three things we learned from Hearts 2 - 1 Aberdeen

Craig Fowler gives his take after Hearts were able to defeat Aberdeen 2-1 at Tynecastle.

Saturday, 20th October 2018, 6:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th October 2018, 6:42 pm
Demetri Mitchell vies for possession with Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven.

A case for the defence

Without both John Souttar and Christophe Berra, Hearts have been left a little light on centre-backs. While Jimmy Dunne has been excellent so far this season, and Clevid Dikamona showed promising signs in his four substitute appearances prior to Saturday, fans were still unsure of how the two would pair together. Just fine, would be the answer. Dunne was again superb, while Dikamona put in a solid shift beside him. Very few chances came through the heart of the home back-line, perhaps even none, and that was down to their robustness.

This team is flexible

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Craig Levein used three different formations in order to help his side hold on to this 2-1 victory. Starting with the 4-4-2 system he's preferred all season, Hearts raced out of the blocks and could have been ahead by more than two goals at the half. Needing to give his defence extra protection in the second, he introduced Sean Clare for his debut and moved the pieces around into a 4-2-3-1. Not content with what he saw, Levein made a system change once more as the game entered the final stages, bringing on the veteran Aaron Huges and going three-at-the-back. At no point did it ever look like he was jamming square pegs into round holes and each alteration made Hearts that little bit stronger defensively.

Naismith is the obvious choice as stand-in captain

The crowd roared in appreciation when, into injury time, Steven Naismith raced towards goalkeeper Joe Lewis with an eagerness like it was the first minute of the game and managed to block the attempted kick out. The reward was only a goal-kick to Aberdeen, but it gave the fans (and presumably the players) an extra lift as Hearts sought to hang on. His battling qualities and the way in which he's in constant communication with his team-mates throughout the game make him a ready-fit replacement as captain following the loss of Berra and Souttar.