Why Heart of Midlothian are real Ladbrokes Prem title contenders

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Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Fir Park continued Heart of Midlothian’s perfect record in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

And that result fired the Jam Tarts into a five-point lead over the chasing pack, after Celtic had drew a blank at St Mirren the previous night. As it stands, Hearts are now clear third-favourites at 20/1 to lift the title.

Craig Levein’s men host Livingston this weekend. And we’re tipping the Gorgie club to continue their fine form – and outline their title credentials once again.

They’re winning games in impressive fashion

Not only have Hearts scored more goals than any other Premiership side – 11 in five games – but they also boast a superb defensive record.

The Tynecastle club have conceded just two goals in eight games across all competitions, including shutouts of Celtic and Kilmarnock amongst others.

But they’ve also dispatched the division’s lesser lights in ruthless fashion.

Hamilton Academical were thumped 4-1 on the opening weekend. And St Mirren were dispatched by the same scoreline earlier this month, courtesy of a Steven Naismith hat-trick. Speaking of which…

Returning Naismith is a revelation

While some Hearts fans were disappointed to see Kyle Lafferty depart for Ibrox in the early weeks of this campaign, their frustrations were quickly brushed aside.

That’s thanks to the return of Steven Naismith. The Norwich City loanee scored four goals in 16 outings during his spell at Tynecastle last term, but this season he’s found another level.

As well as racking up the goals, with eight from nine across all competitions, the winger has linked up superbly with Hearts’ other creative forces.

His three assists so far have included a deft header to set up Olly Lee’s strike against St Mirren, and a perfectly-floated free kick for Peter Haring at New Douglas Park.

They’ve got a working system…and no fear

While many sides go into their shell when faced with a side of Celtic’s pedigree, Levein has ensured Hearts stick to their guns – and it’s paid off perfectly.

The Jam Tarts boss employed a 4-4-2 against the Hoops, as he has consistently this season. And it’s a system which fits his squad perfectly.

With the skill of Naismith and trickery of Demetri Mitchell on the flanks, they’re a nightmare for any opposition defence.

Meanwhile, former Luton Town ace Lee and Austrian Haring offer both steel and an ability to surge forward to devastating effect from deeper midfield positions.

Match Odds

Hearts are firm favourites to beat Livingston at 8/15. Meanwhile, hotshot hitman Naismith is 6/4 to find the net Anytime.

Meanwhile, a third 4-1 triumph of the season is priced up at a chunky 28/1.

Click here for the latest Hearts v Livingston odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the day of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.