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Scottish Premiership: Third-placed Hearts host leaders Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership champions Celtic have suffered from a stuttering start to the defence of their title this season, leaving Aberdeen to open a five-point lead at the summit ahead of their clash with third-placed Hearts.

The hosts are another side that can benefit from a current blip in form from Ronny Deila’s Bhoys, and they will be confident of overcoming the Dons, having not been beaten in this fixture since March 2013.

Although, Derek McInnes’ travelling outfit are still the even-money favourites with Coral to secure three points on the road, after storming to top of the table, following a stunning 2-1 victory over title rivals Celtic last time out.

Soccer - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership - Aberdeen v Celtic - Pittodrie Stadium

The Dons’ determined boss has guided his team to a perfect start to the domestic campaign so far, taking maximum points from their opening seven games, with McInnes claiming work ethic is the key factor behind such rampant form.

“I’m not sure about the secret, but certainly a lot of hard work and having a good squad of players,” stated the 44-year-old.

“We’ve managed to rotate that a few times as well, and the games have come thick and fast. Obviously, early on, with the European involvement we had to do that.

“But we’ve managed to find ways to win and we’ve had some tough fixtures in these opening games. I think Saturday’s performance against Celtic, that win was important for lots of reasons; but to follow that up with the same three points with a win on Tuesday night was just as pleasing.

“I think the players have a real competitive edge about them, they believe they can do well this season in all competitions, and that’s what we intend to do.

“But I think that sequence of results we’ve had, we’ve probably had similar unbeaten runs and sequences throughout the season, but obviously none at the start and the start has encouraged everybody.”

Soccer - Scottish Championship - Rangers v Heart of Midlothian - Ibrox Stadium

Republic of Ireland international call-up Adam Rooney has been one of the key components during such a successful start, with the Dons marksman netting six league goals in seven outings already. The Dubliner is 11/2 to open proceedings, having done so last time out, as well as netting in four successive games.

The hosts triumphed in their opening six matches this term, but are now without a win in three outings, after losing back-to-back away clashes. Head coach Robbie Neilson will hope to get back on track on home soil and his main dangerman will be Callum Paterson, who has struck three times this season, and is 5/1 to add to that impressive tally anytime.

Betting tip: Adam Rooney to score first @ 11/2