With the capital clubs hosting the basement boys this week, not many would bet against both Hearts and Hibs coming out on top away to St Mirren and at home to Dundee respectively.
But what’s led to the current dip of form of the previous league leaders Hearts and why have Hibs not quite hit the heights of last year after the two played out an infuriating derby day draw?
In Gorgie, the problems are there for all to see. No goals in four games speaks volumes and the fact that David Vanecek doesn’t arrive in the west end until January must be a bugbear for Craig Levein and his side at the minute.
The biggest disappointment are the injuries to Uche Ikpeazu and Steven Naismith, who still remains tied top goalscorer in the league despite having not played in nearly a month. That was largely down to a hat-trick scored against Saturday’s opponents at the Tynecastle fixture in a 4-1 victory.
Steven MacLean has scored twice in the league: the fourth and final goal in the opening day 4-1 victory away at Hamilton and the third at a 3-0 win at Dens Park, relegation fodder no disrespect. Craig Wighton is by no means the finished article up front and needs time to develop but these are the only two recognised strikers outside the current injured duo at the club.
So you can highlight the absence of John Souttar and Christophe Berra if you wish but Jimmy Dunne has been a revelation since signing on loan from Burnley and looks to be heading onto bigger and better things, even being called up to the Republic of Ireland senior side for the first time.
Clevid Dikamona has also been a real rock for the Jambos on a free transfer but ultimately it’s the lack of goals, and subsequent results, that’s led to them being replaced at the top of the tree after their loss to Kilmarnock, just the second in front of their new stand.
Easter Road issues
Over on the east side, Hibs have struggled to score in their last three games and despite scoring twice in the game before that, they lost in a 4-2 thriller against the reigning champions and now league leaders, Celtic.
The one thing you are guaranteed with Hibs is entertainment. Their last win highlights it, a resounding 6-0 victory over Hamilton Accies at Easter Road. Unfortunately, this was back in the first week in October so they’ve waited longer than their neighbours on a victory.
You could argue that Hibs are relatively rusty though having not had a fixture the week between Accies and Celtic and watching the Betfred Cup semi-finals take place after being knocked out against now-finalists Aberdeen.
That game should’ve been the warning sign for this latest run of form. They had the better of Aberdeen in that game and arguably at both Easter Road and Pittodrie in their league encounters. The St Johnstone match they had a point snatched away from them in the dying embers of the game along with the frustrating stalemate in the derby.
Why are Hibs where they are?
In fact, it’s really just down to a couple of daft results. Only eight points off top spot, you’d be quick to point fingers at the Livingston loss and the St Johnstone home loss and away draw. Additionally, if you’re vying for a European place, Aberdeen at home could be seen as two points dropped, and not one gained.
The goals and results are bound to come for this pair, they’ll be in contention for European places come the end of the season, make no mistake about that. There’s a whole host of talent in the capital but with the Old Firm, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen challenging in the upper echelons of the Premiership table it isn’t going to be as routine as it perhaps used to be.