A Hibs win looks the most likely outcome given their impressive form under Paul Heckingbottom and the fact they have more obvious and reliable goal threats in Marc McNulty, Florian Kamberi, Daryl Horgan and Stevie Mallan. Despite their poor run of the results in the league, Hearts - who surely won’t be as listless as they were against Rangers last weekend - aren’t without hope of making it back-to-back wins at Easter Road. They have generally applied themselves well in the derbies under Craig Levein and will be a danger from set-pieces and on the counter-attack if Sean Clare, Jake Mulraney and Uche Ikpeazu can produce their best form. Prediction: Marc McNulty to get back on the goal trail in a narrow Hibs win
On the surface, everything points to a Hibs win here. They won at Tynecastle earlier in the month and are a team in form. The atmosphere around the Easter Road club is far more positive than at Hearts, even taking into account the Jambos’ upcoming Scottish Cup final. However, I do expect a reaction from Hearts after the limp defeat by Rangers. Their team may not be the most expansive, but within it are numerous experienced individuals who are capable of grinding out a result. My bugbear with Hibs is that they don’t score enough against top-six teams. I think Hearts will make this a war and sneak a point back to Gorgie.
Hearts fans are dreading this derby more than any other since... erm, 2007? When Hibs had won the League Cup and Hearts were in poor form under the Anatoliy Korobochka/Steven Frail brains-trust and had several key players out missing. Somehow, the Maroons managed to take all three points back to Tynecastle that day due to a combination of a stellar defensive showing and Andy McNeil. A similar ‘football, bloody hell’ type of result will be required this time, where everything goes against rational explanation and we’re reminded of the purposelessness of predicting results. The way both teams have been playing recently, and the massive advantage held by home teams in Edinburgh derbies through the last few years (prior to this season), points at only one result. Prediction: Hibs win
It’s three weeks since Hibs tasted glory at Tynecastle and here we are with another helping of the Edinburgh derby. On paper and current form you’d have to fancy Hibs, particularly at home. This appears to be the perception amongst the Hearts support too, with the away end unlikely to be sold out in time for kick off. But, for those who are attending have rightly pointed out, some of the club’s finest victories at the home of their greatest rivals have come when it’s least expected. Hearts have already won at Easter Road this season and will be aiming to build some momentum ahead of next month’s Scottish Cup final. Hibs, on the other hand, have the opportunity to move six points clear of Levein’s men as they aim to stay in the run-in for a European spot. The Jambos confidence has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent weeks, the polar opposite to that of their opponents. Prediction: Hibs win.
There is surely no chance of Hearts playing as badly as they did in the first half against Rangers, although the absence of Peter Haring - Hearts’ best player in the last meeting between the rivals - will be keenly felt in the visitors’ ranks. The return of Sean Clare should, at least, give Craig Levein’s side a bit of oomph in midfield that was sorely lacking against the Light Blues but whether or not that will be enough for Hearts remains to be seen. Derbies are often won through moments of individual skill, but they can also be won by a dogged team effort. Under Heckingbottom, Hibs look better organised, more fluid and hard to beat - as evidenced by the nine-game unbeaten run in the league. There is plenty of quality in the Hearts team even with the likes of Haring and Steven Naismith missing, and as such they can’t be written off, but a raucous and expectant Easter Road crowd could play a big part in helping Hibs over the line as they continue their transformation under the new regime. Prediction: Hibs win
Well, there it is. Boy, it doesn’t look good for Hearts. No Haring, no Naismith and a teenage left-back who had real difficulty dealing with Daryl Horgan in the last derby. Unsurprisingly and understandably, Levein will have to unearth another line-up, another system to try and take something from their rivals. The fact Hearts have struggled to sell their allocation says a lot about the friction between fans and club. Worse Hearts team in worse positions have travelled to Easter Road with greater backing. The apathy is strong among a support who just want to get to the Scottish Cup final and hope for the best. The team, in a 3-1 defeat to Rangers, displayed apathy of their own as they didn’t lay a glove on their opponents with Levein claiming their heads were clouded. That may have been the case but their feet were leaden. Hibs have the form, confidence, momentum, home advantage, settled side, matchwinners, pace, full-backs, clear plan all in their favour, plus an eye on fourth place. There have been times Hearts have travelled to Easter Road without much confidence but this occasion seems different. Hibs win 3-0.
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