Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Scottish Premiership clash between Motherwell and Hearts, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
On the strength of a Europa Conference League victory in Latvia in midweek, Hearts will be aiming to get back to winning ways in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, when they travel to Fir Park to do battle with Motherwell.
Both teams find themselves level on 10 points after six outings, with only Celtic and Rangers leading at this stage, but both will be looking to bounce back from disappointing results ahead of last weekend’s postponements.
After their season got off to a disappointing start with a 3-0 aggregate loss to Sligo Rovers in Europa Conference League qualifying, ruling out the possibility of any further continental action this term, Motherwell began their Scottish Premiership campaign on the foot with a 1-0 win at St Mirren thanks to Kevin van Veenon penalty.
Steven HammelThe men would then suffer a home defeat to St Johnstone but they managed to bounce back in impressive fashion with back-to-back wins, first beating Aberdeen 3-2 away from home, after coming from behind to snatch the three dots. thanks to second half goals Callum Lattery and van Veen.
This was followed by a 1-0 home win over Livingston to improve to nine points from four outings, van Veen again finding the net to seal the points, before The Well suffered a narrow 2-1 loss at Kilmarnock , after leading through the in-form van Veen until the 70th minute, only to Danny Armstrong and Ash Taylor to quickly turn the game around.
Hoping to bounce back from that loss, and following a 4-0 thrashing of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the second round of the Scottish League Cup, in which van Veen added three more goals to his tally, Motherwell recently faced Dundee United on home soil, and they had to settle for a point as neither team could break the deadlock.
Now sitting on a pleasant tally of 10 points from six games, and following an extended break following the postponement of their scheduled match with Ross County last weekend due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Hammell’s side will be looking to make a return to winning ways to edge out any of the teams battling around them at the top of the Premiership.
Hearts, meanwhile, will travel with renewed confidence after a Continental victory, after a somewhat mixed start to the term.
The Jam Tarts got off to a fast start in Scotland’s top flight with victories over Ross County and Dundee United, either side of an agonizing draw with rivals Hibernian, as Martin Boyle equalized in the 95th minute for their opponents but then failed to qualify for the Europa League group stage, losing 3-1 on aggregate to FC Zurich.
A first league defeat of the season against Celtic came between the two legs of that draw, but they managed to find their way back to winning ways against St Johnstone with Lawrence Shankland wrapping up a 3-2 win with an 81st-minute penalty, to suffer back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Kilmarnock and Livingston in the Scottish League Cup and Premiership respectively.
Their losing streak was extended to three games by a 4-0 loss at Istanbul Basaksehir in their Europa Conference League group stage curtain-raiser and, after also being hit by domestic postponements over the weekend end, Robbie NeilsonRigas Futbola Skola side returned to action on Thursday and were able to score their first points in a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from Shankland and Alan Forest.
Now with renewed confidence from that win after a tough run, Hearts will be aiming to get their league form back on track with what would be an important win on Sunday in their bid to crack the top three.
Form of Motherwell Scottish Premiership:
Motherwell form (all competitions):
Form Hearts Scottish Premiership:
Shape of hearts (all competitions):
The Motherwell line will again be led by key man Kevin van Veen, who has scored seven of his nine goals in all competitions so far this season, including four in six league appearances.
New signature Matt Penney will keep his place on the left side of the back four, while Huddersfield Town on loan Rolando Aarons will push to be ahead of him on the wing.
Prolific striker Louis Moultwho left in 2018, recently joined Burton Albion on loan, and he is also in contention to make the top three, while the midfield unit of Sean GossCallum Slattery and Ross Tierney should remain unchanged.
Hearts stay without aggressor Liam Boyce and midfield Beni Baningime due to long-term injuries, while the centre-back Kye Rowles was also in the running for the trip to Rigas.
Craig Halket returned to defense after his own layoff, and he could join Stephen Kingsley in the middle of the back four with Nathaniel Atkinson push to move Michael Smith on the right side and Cammy Devlin and Jorge Grant ready to continue operating in the engine room.
In Boyce’s absence, Lawrence Shankland will continue to lead the line, having already scored five goals in all competitions since his summer arrival from Beerschot, while competition for other attacking positions is heated. Josh Ginnelly, Barrie McKayAlan Forest, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stephen Humphrys all vying for the starting places.
Possible starting lineup from Motherwell:
Kelly; McGinn, Lamie, Johansen, Penney; Goss, Slattery, Tierney; Mue, Van Veen, Aarons
Possible starting composition of Hearts:
Gordon; Atkinson, Kingsley, Halkett, Cochrane; Grant, Devlin, Halliday; McKay, Shankland, Forrest
We say: Motherwell 1-2 Hearts
Hearts are yet to be at their best in the Scottish Premiership this season, but Neilson have a solid squad at their disposal and, after a confidence-boosting win in Rigas, they should have what it takes to start winning again. lanes at Fir Park.
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