We ruled the roost over the Jam Tarts last season but they have begun to exact revenge this year – winning the only meeting 2-1 at Tynecastle. But things were different then.
Vladimir Romanov still seemed a reasonable man and George Burley was in charge of the team. Now Romanov has shown severe dictatorial tendencies and Graham Rix is the newly installed head coach. Hearts have lost their first game of the season at Easter Road and they looked far from being ‘title contenders’ in their draw at Pittodrie last weekend.
However, recent problems, real or imaginary, do not disguise the fact that player for player they are better than us. If they can hit form, we will have to mount an effective rear guard action to preserve a point. We know though, that football matches are not always decided simply by who has the better players. Our defence, much lamented earlier in the season, is now looking relatively solid. Perhaps we aren’t as free scoring as we were but we have still found the net in all but two matches this season – and if Aberdeen can carve out chances against the Hearts defence, there is no reason why we can’t.
We were disappointing at Tannadice and the players should be looking to bounce back with a good effort. We have not lost in our last four games so confidence should be high. If we can contain Skacel we have a good chance.
The game will no doubt rush from end to end but Hearts are under much more pressure than us. They are expected to win and they will also be aware of Celtic having a near guaranteed victory – they could find themselves five points off the top of the league when the matches are over. The game will be exciting and whilst the quality of football may not always be top notch, the fans will have an entertaining afternoon. And half of them will be happy with a 2-1 home win.