Stokes signing gives Hibs Cup edge for Edinburgh derby at Hearts
Robbie Purves | February 5, 2016
Hearts v Hibernian
- Scottish FA Cup 5th Round
- Sunday, 7th February
- Kick Off: 12:30 GMT
- Tynecastle, Edinburgh
- Live on Sky Sports 2
In-form Hibs to humble high-flying Hearts
Despite playing in different divisions, the Edinburgh rivalry is very much alive and kicking, and Hibernian look value with Coral at 11/5 to win this tie in 90 minutes.
This last 16 match-up will be Hearts and Hibernian’s first Scottish FA Cup clash since December 2012, when the Jambos arrived at Easter Road on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run in derby games.
Last season Hearts won the Scottish Championship with ease, beating Hibs to first place by 21 points and with an incredible goal difference of +70. This left Hibernian second, gaining qualification to the Scottish Premiership play-offs against Rangers which they lost 1-2 on aggregate – leaving the green half of the capital stranded in the Championship for another season.
Alan Stubbs’ men are now second in the second tier, eight points behind Glasgow rivals Gers – while Hearts sit third behind Celtic and Aberdeen in the Premiership.
Stokes return boosts Hibs prospects
Hibs brought in five players during the winter window including former striker Anthony Stokes on loan from Celtic.
While previously at Easter Road, Stokes netted 22 in 40 games and, since arriving this January, has scored two in two, making him a superb 7/1 to score first against arch-rivals Hearts this Sunday.
Hearts were also busy during the window, bringing in highly rated 19 year old, John Souttar from bottom side Dundee United for an undisclosed fee.
The Jambos’ top scorer this season, Osman Sow, is a doubt to play after the Tynecastle team agreed a fee with Chinese club Henan Jianye, thought to be around £1.5m.
Sow could make a farewell appearance against Hibs and can be confident that Hearts will triumph, having lost only one of the last six Edinburgh derbies.
Hibs have historic win in sights
Hosts Hearts are 5/4 to progress to the next stage and 7/1 to lift the oldest national football trophy in the world.
Hibs haven’t won the Scottish Cup for 114 years, losing all 10 finals they have appeared in since 1902.
In 2012, the two Edinburgh clubs faced each other in the now infamous final Hearts won 5-1, a drubbing that saw the Maroons lift their eighth Scottish Cup trophy.
However, the Easter Road side can come into this fixture with confidence having lost just once in their last 19 games and have recently booking there place in the League Cup Final.
They will meet Ross County at Hampden in March, and are 8/11 to lift their first silverware since winning it in 2007.
Hearts hoping to clinch coaching deals
After promotion last year and an impressive campaign this season, Hearts owner Ann Budge confirmed that talks had taken place between the club and the coaching staff in a view to extend their contracts.
Robbie Neilson’s men play a fast, athletic style of play that has garnered criticism of late, with Motherwell manager Mark Mcghee saying they play a ‘very robust style of play’.
Neilson leapt to his players’ defence, saying critics have confused physicality with athleticism and believes Scottish football has lacked it in recent years.
“That’s why we struggle in Europe or in the international game,” he said. Scotland go away and play against teams that are all big athletic players. We have to be like that as well.”
With tough, strong players such as Alim Ozturk and tricky attackers like Sam Nicholson and Jamie Walker, Neilson’s side combines strength and skill – a mixture that has seen Hearts rise to third in the table and with the manager receiving admiring glances from English clubs.
Jason Cummings has scored 18 goals for Hibs this season, so is 6/4 to net anytime, and it will be intriguing to see how he links up with Stokes against an aggressive Hearts defence.
The Jambos press high up the pitch and could be vulnerable to the attacking pair if they spring a counter attack.
Stubbs’ side won’t need any encouragement as their sustained pursuit of Rangers has their tail’s up, yet they still have a poor record at Tynecastle and will look to silence the old jib that Hibs lack mettle.
Scotland’s capital will be buoyant on derby day in what will be a fascinating instalment of the historic rivalry.