It’s first against third in this heavyweight Ladbrokes Premiership clash between league leaders Aberdeen and Hearts.
Despite a magnificent return to the Premiership, the Jam Tarts go into this match at Tynecastle on a run of two successive defeats. Robbie Neilson’s boys have a fantastic home record though, winning their three games and scoring nine goals in the process.
Derek McInnes’ visitors have started the season like a house on fire. Seven wins in a row have propelled them to the top of the table and a five point cushion to second place. They showed their title credentials with an impressive win against Celtic, with ten men, and backed it up with an hard fought midweek win over Hamilton at Pittodrie.
It is a surprisingly one sided match-up on paper, with the Gorgie outfit winning two of the last three and the Dons have only tasted victory once in the last 14 matches between the pair.
Now we will have a look at some of the match-ups that will be key to either side winning…
Alim Ozturk vs Adam Rooney –
Adam Rooney is one of the most in-form players in Scotland. The Dons forward netted an impressive 28 goals last season, and has started where he left off, already scoring six times this campaign. He has been rewarded by being called up to the Irish national squad and he will be keen to prove to Martin O’Neill what he can do in front of the TV cameras.
Jambo skipper Ozturk is a fine defender and extremely calm and composed on the ball. Sometimes he can be accused of rash decision making which can lead to errors. Up against a striker at the top of his game you feel there will be at least a couple of times in the match where his concentration will cost him, to Rooney’s benefit.
Verdict – Rooney to get the better of the Turkish defender.
Prince Buaben v Ryan Jack
The key midfield battle between Bauben and Jack will have a big bearing on how the match will turn out. Bauben has been a vital component in the resurgence of Hearts, and can be trusted to put in a whole hearted shift every time. He is tough, never shirks a tackle but has a creative side to his game that is often overlooked. The Ghana international combines to devastating affect with his ex-Dundee United team mate Gomis, to form one of the best midfield partnerships in the league.
Ryan Jack is one of the most talented youngsters in the Scottish Premiership. The 23 year-old was surprisingly named as club captain in the summer, but McInness obviously trusts him. He looks wise beyond his years and controls the centre of midfield like a veteran. He came out on top in the battle with Scott Brown against Celtic, but he may feel the pressure of leading his side out at the intimidating Tynecastle.
Verdict – The more experienced Bauben to come out on top.
Juanma vs Andy Considine –
Summer signing Juanma has taken to life in Scotland like a duck to water. The ex-Alaves frontman has found the net four times and put in a number of eye catching performances. He has slightly cooled down in recent weeks, but a return to Tynecastle is sure to please.
Aberdeen have one of the most measly defences in the country, having amazingly only conceded two goals in their opening seven wins. Andy Considine has played a huge role in this record. The stopper has been with the club for a number of years, and developed into one of the most reliable performers in the team.
Verdict – Nothing to pick between the talented pair.
With so many closely fought tussles over the pitch it is very hard to call a winner. Aberdeen will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going and Hearts will be looking to halt their run of two defeats, therfore both sides may be happy with a share of the points.
Best Bet: Draw at 23/10