Hibernian vs HeartsScottish Premiership, KO: 15:00 Sep 22, 2019, Easter Road
THE first Edinburgh derby of the season could end up being the last one for either Paul Heckingbottom or Craig Levein – two managers under massive pressure.
This capital clash has more on the line than just bragging rights, as a heavy defeat here for either boss could seal their fate.
Yet, it's hard to envisage either of these sides dishing out a derby day drubbing at Easter Road on account of the appalling starts both respective rivals have made to their Scottish Premiership campaigns.
The men in maroon hit rock-bottom last weekend when they were beaten 3-2 in their own backyard by Motherwell – a result which prompted a fans protest outside the main entrance of Tynecastle.
Hearts owner Anne Budge has since responded by backing Levein and refuted claims that the Jambos boss is “untouchable” despite him currently overseeing a wretched run of form which sees Hearts without a league win in 12 attempts – their last league victory was way back in March.
Across the city things aren't much better for Hibees boss Heckingbottom who's promising honeymoon period towards the end of last season is fast becoming a distant memory for the Leith faithful.
Hibs, after squeezing out St Mirren on the opening weekend of the season, are without a win in four top-flight outings and have shipped 13 goals during that same stretch of games.
Consequently, both teams combined have only manged a solitary success in 10 attempts thus far – a ridiculous state of affairs for two of the countries biggest clubs.
Such pitiful performances from hapless Hibs and Hearts will give punters a headache ahead of what is arguably the most unpredictable Edinburgh derby in many a year – all of which is reflected in the outright betting markets for this tussle.
Generally speaking, derby games are difficult to predict, however, what can almost certainly be expected when these fierce rivals lock horns in Leith is bookings
Last season 23 cards were dished over four derbies – an average of 5.75 per-game – and with both sides in desperate need of a result I don't see any reason for cards not to feature heavily in this showdown.
John Beaton has been given the thankless task of trying to control this contest and despite this fixtures fiery reputation, only one red card was brandished last season – a sending off on Sunday has been boosted to 3/1 with McBookie.
One of the nine cards Beaton has flashed this season was red and he averaged just under four cards per-game in the top-flight last term – a stat which has attracted me to the Evens (Betfred) on offer for both teams to accrue 20+ booking points on Sunday.
Focusing on individual cautions could be tricky given the fact there are so many candidates worth considering – too many many to mention in-fact.
In the event he makes his Edinburgh derby debut, warhorse Glenn Whelan appeals at 12/5 (Bet 365), however, better value could lie with tough-tackling Hibs midfielder Josh Vela at 15/8 (Bet 365) who has only escaped a yellow card in one of his four Scottish Premiership run outs to date.
In considering who will triumph – this confrontation is almost impossible to call -and if pushed I would sit on the fence and plump for the draw – a result which could buy both managers a bit more time.
Yet, Hearts have hit the back of the net at Pittodrie, Fir Park and Celtic Park in recent weeks and they have also picked up at least two bookings at all of the aforementioned venues.
As such, backing Hearts to score and over 1.5 Hearts cards appeals at 3/4 (McBookie) on Sunday – a combination that would have also generated profit in both derbies at Easter Road last season.
This Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Hearts will be played on Sep 22, 2019 and kick off at 15:00