Hibs travel to Tynecastle in the hope of providing their fans with the ultimate boost for the season ahead as they face a Hearts side buoyant following victory over Rangers last week.
The Hibees last victory at the home of their arch rivals was back in May 2013 when Ross Caldwell bagged a fine last minute winner to hand his side the points.
Prior to that success, Hibs hadn’t won at Tynecastle in four years when a Derek Riordan penalty handed an under strength side a 1-0 win.
Hibs have improved under Alan Stubbs, of that there is no doubt, but given how bad they were under previous incumbent Terry Butcher, it would have been virtually impossible to regress.
Some Hibbies believe the derby has came around a little too early in the season for them to register the win with players still clearly bedding into, and learning, Stubbs philosophy.
For 45 minutes against Livingston last week, the Easter Road side were as good as many have seen in a long time, however as soon as Livingston managed to pull a goal back the doubts regarding the team’s mentality were pushed forward from the back of the mind.
Credit where it’s due and Hibs held on to record a win in their season opener in a campaign which will likely go right to the wire.
To come out of Sunday’s clash with three points, Stubbs’ men will have to show the same mental fortitude which saw out the Livingston game.
Possession football such as the cup display at Ibrox could also be key to seeing Hibs on the road to victory whilst supply into striker Farid El Alagui needs to be accurate rather than wayward.
The back line has looked better over pre season although Paul Hanlon and Jordan Forster will find their afternoon tough going against Swede Osman Sow who impressed again last week.
Alan Stubbs: “I have to say I sometimes get the impression it was only Hibs that went down last season. Hearts went down as well but there is a lot more negativity around Hibs than Hearts which I find probably unjust.
“But we are focusing on what we can do, the impact we are going to have on the game and come Sunday. I know the players will be ready to do themselves justice.
“They are always great occasions where it is all about local pride. It`s got the makings of a great game in front of a full house. We`ve sold our allocation of tickets, Hearts have done likewise so it will be a terrific atmosphere. It`s also one that`s completely different from my point of view, my first as a manager and to have it so early on is something I am really looking forward to.
“I am hoping very much that come the end of the 90 minutes I am going to be enjoying it even more.”
Farid El Alagui: “Everybody in the squad is looking forward to it. We want to go there, enjoy it and win.
“Our supporters deserve it and we`ll all be giving everything we can in order to put a smile on their faces at the end of the game.”
Hearts Team News:
Hearts are without several players who would be considered as starters on most weeks.
Definitely out is keeper Neil Alexander with the former Ibrox player having broke his cheekbone against Rangers last weekend and full back Callum Paterson is also ruled out
Lee Hollis stands by to make his debut between the sticks having signed on Friday if Scott Gallagher is unable to shake off an ankle injury sustained in training.
Player to watch: Osman Sow
Big ungainly target man was linked with a move to Hibs during Terry Butcher’s time at the club and the Swede has quickly became a fans favourite at Tynecastle.
Had bagged 4 in 4 pre season games for Robbie Neilson’s men before netting an injury time winner at Ibrox last week.
Hibernian Team News:
Hibs welcome Danny Handling back from his suspension following a red card received against Rangers in the Petrofac Cup whilst Scott Allan completed 75 minutes of an under 21 match in midweek as he nears full fitness.
Matthew Kennedy, on loan from Everton, will be pushing to make his first start after a late substitute appearance against Livingston last week saw him make his debut.
Paul Heffernan and Sam Stanton, both disappointing last week against the Almondvale outfit could be the ones to make way.
Player to watch: Liam Craig
The club captain looks like he’s enjoying life under Stubbs but both he and central midfield partner Scott Robertson will need to be at the top of their game to win the midfield battle against Hearts pair Bauben and Gomis.
Match Facts & Stats
This is the first time the two sides have clashed on league duty outwith the Scottish top flight.
Willie Collum is the man charged with taking care of the on field matters and will be hoping there’s no controversy this time around.
Hibs have been on the end of some poor judgements by the officials in recent years which have cost them points in this fixture
Hearts will feel they can stroll this one after victory last week but they won’t find Hibs an easy opponent.
Hibs have two home games in a row with Falkirk visiting on league duty next Saturday before a League Cup clash against Dumbarton.
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So why not register today to have your say starting with Sunday’s Edinburgh Derby against the Jambo’s.