After landing a shock trophy and finishing third in the league last year the weight of expectation at Inverness Caledonian Thistle was heavier than usual going into this season and Caley have suffered for it.
John Hughes’ men sit third from bottom in the Ladbrokes Premiership having failed to win any of their opening six games.
The Tulloch residents can point to a lengthy list of absentees as an excuse for this below par start but with Dean Brill, Ryan Esson, Josh Meekins, Garry Warren, James Vincent, Aaron Doran and Richie Foran all short of full fitness there appears to be little sign of a reprieve.
By contrast, Hearts have taken to life back in the top flight as if they never left, with defeat to Hamilton last time out the only time they have failed to pick up maximum points this term.
While there is plenty of time for Caley to bounce back, especially when the injury list looks less like a grocery list, the visit of Hearts appears to have come too soon.
The Jambos go into the tie as 7/5 favourites, with the hosts down as 19/10 outsiders and after losing their 100 per cent record last time out Robbie Neilson’s men will be chomping at the bit to return to winning ways.
Clichés to one side, there could be plenty of attention paid to the goalscorer markets this weekend, especially with the favourites not allowing anyone to get rich quick.
Hearts new boy Juanma started life in the SPFL with a bang, netting three goals in this first three league matches, but the Spaniard has scored just once more in five games.
With half of his goals coming away from home though the Jam Tarts’ frontman looks a solid pick to get proceedings underway this weekend and odds of 5/1 on him netting first could prove a shrewd selection.
If it’s a sure thing you’re after, however, the 4/11 on over 1.5 goals looks good value – even at odds-on – with seven of the last eight meetings seeing two or more goals.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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