Hibs vs Hearts predictions: Hibs can stop Hearts' momentum

Simon Barlow
Spotlight
New Hibs boss Lee Johnson tackles his first Edinburgh derby on Sunday
New Hibs boss Lee Johnson tackles his first Edinburgh derby on Sunday

Hearts finished 16 points ahead of Hibs in the standings last season and will go into the first Edinburgh derby of 2022-23 as the favourites to take the spoils on Sunday. 

There has been continuity at the top with Robbie Neilson set to embark on his third straight season in charge during a successful second spell as manager. 

The Jambos squad has been augmented in a bid to cope with the demands of European football and they got off to a winning start against Ross County last week, although they were pushed all the way. 

Lee Johnson accepted the challenge of turning Hibs' fortunes around after the club chewed through two permanent bosses and needed two caretaker spells from David Gray to tide them over last term. 

Stability is needed first and foremost, but Hibs also began with a win and a positive performance against their local rivals would be an instant shot in the arm for Johnson's tenure. 

Team news

Josh Campbell came off the bench to grab Hibs' winner against St Johnstone last weekend and he will hope his late heroics at McDiarmid Park are enough to press his starting claims. 

He replaced Chris Cadden when the right-back tired following a pre-season injury, but it looks like the Scotland international will be available once more. 

New signing Marijan Cabraja acquitted himself well at left-back and should continue in a back four alongside central defenders Ryan Porteous and Rocky Bushiri. 

Former Leeds United prospect Nohan Kenneh will continue in midfield with Joe Newell and Ewan Henderson, while Jair Tavares and Elias Melkersen are likely to flank Elie Youan in an unchanged attack. 

Club captain Paul Hanlon got 45 minutes in the reserves this week as he returns from an injury sustained late last term and could make the bench, but Kyle Magennis, Kevin Nisbet, Lewis Stevenson and Aiden McGeady are still out. 

Stephen Kingsley has not trained this week and remains a major doubt for Hearts, but winger Josh Ginnelly is available and midfielder Cammy Devlin could start. 

Alan Forrest, Kye Rowles and Lawrence Shankland will get their first taste of an Edinburgh derby if the manager names an unchanged line-up while fellow new signings Lewis Neilson and Jorge Grant are pushing to start. 

The stats

Two of last season's three Premiership derby tussles finished 0-0, but neither lacked drama or goalmouth incident. 

It was a tale of two goalkeepers in the first at Tynecastle as Craig Gordon and Matt Macey both produced a series of fine saves to ensure the points were shared. 

Craig Gordon's heroics forced a goalless draw at Tynecastle last term
Craig Gordon's heroics forced a goalless draw at Tynecastle last term

Toby Sibbick cleared a late Campbell effort off the line as Hibs came closest to winning February's league clash at Easter Road, but Hearts clinched each of the remaining two in the series - including the all-important Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. 

Hibs' last home win over their cross-city rivals came back in 2018 with the Jambos earning three wins and two draws from their last five trips to Leith. 

Prediction

Hearts have risen to the occasion every time Neilson has led them into battle in the manager's second spell and it seems likely that the visitors will be hard to beat on Sunday. 

But the Jambos were not convincing winners against Ross County, who hit the post twice and produced some high-quality chances to score. 

Hibs may be a work in progress right now, but their defence performed well enough at McDiarmid Park last week to suggest they can keep a clean sheet in a game of few clear-cut chances.

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