Saturday, 21 November 2015 at 15:00 GMT / 15:00 UK / 20:30 IST
Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh
Hearts can maintain second spot if they beat seventh-placed Dundee at Tynecastle.
Robbie Neilson’s side have won five of their seven league games at home this season and they’ll be confident of adding to that tally when the Dark Blues visit.
It’s a bit of a homecoming for Dundee boss Paul Hartley who spent four great years at the Edinburgh club and he’ll be determined to put one over his old side.
Dundee have only won twice on the road so far this season, but with three draws and just two defeats, they’ll be anything but a walkover. Add the fire that Hartley will provide in the dressing room to gee up his players for this one, and the game poses something of a conundrum for betters.
While the bookies see Hearts as clear favourites to win the game, getting on the draw at odds of around 14/5 could see you pocketing a nice little touch – but it will dependent on the Dark Blues boss shoring up a defence that’s leaked 23 goals this term so far.
Hearts had won four on the spin going into the International break but have lost some of that momentum with the enforced inactivity. It has, however, given captain Alim Ozturk a chance to recover from the hernia operation that put him out of action for four weeks and he could make a welcome return to the Jambos starting line-up.Striker Soufian El Hassnaoui’s groin injury may also have cleared up in time for him to make the squad, though he’ll have to be assessed by the club’s medical staff this week.
Dundee have injury problems of their own with centre back James McPake sidelined with a knee injury and striker Rhys Healey is also on the treatment table.
Both sides have employed the traditional four-four-two formation to good effect and there doesn’t look any reason why either side should change their set-up for the fixture. That will free up a bit of space in the midfield for the more creative players to probe for gaps in each other’s back lines and hopefully produce some goalmouth action at both ends.
If Neilson’s Hearts can reproduce the form that they’ve shown so this season then they should reflect the odds and take the three points. They’ve already won in an earlier encounter at Dens Park this season and are the firm favourites ahead of the game.
But the Hartley factor is something that should also be taken into account. He remains a folk hero with the Hearts fans for his hat-trick against rivals Hibs in the 2006 Scottish Cup semi-finals and can be assured of a warm welcome on the day. Whether that welcome extends to the final whistle will be dependent on the performance that the Capital side put in; and with 15 goals netted from their seven home games and just seven conceded, the form book certainly makes them look a good bet for the win.
Hearts Stats W9 D2 L3
Recent Form DWWLWW
Dundee Stats W4 D6 L4
Recent Form DWDLDD
08/08/2015 Dundee 1 Hearts 2
27/04/2013 Dundee 1 Hearts 0
30/01/2013 Hearts 1 Dundee 0
03/11/2012 Dundee 1 Hearts 0
02/09/2012 Hearts 0 Dundee 1
Hearts (4-4-2) – Alexander, Paterson, McGhee, Rossi Branco, Oshaniwa, Swanson, Sutchuin, Buaben, Nicholson, Sow, Lloria.
Dundee (4-4-2) – Bain, McGinn, Gadzhalov, Konrad, K Holt, Ross, McGowan, Low, Healy, Loy, Stewart.
Hearts: Walker (inj), El Hassnaoui (inj).
Dundee: McPake (inj), Healey (inj).
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