Hearts have enjoyed a relatively successful time of it lately, with manager Craig Levein masterminding the end of Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run and a much-vaunted cup success over rivals Hibs.
The Jambos were blistering against Celtic in December but last month’s Scottish Cup win over Hibernian was much more workmanlike.
If Levein is to prove his theory that their first Edinburgh derby win in ten attempts was a signal Hearts are about to “restore the natural order” in the capital, then his team must push on into the latter stages of this competition.
Since that win at Easter Road, they have slipped further behind Neil Lennon’s team in the league, although they did bounce back from defeat to Celtic with a grinding 1-0 win over St Johnstone last weekend.
The same teams meet at Tynecastle for a place in the last eight of the Scottish Cup on Saturday and recent trends suggests we can expect a game of few goals, with the home side the likely victors.
Four of the last five meetings between these teams have ended with 1-0 wins for the home side, with the other being a scoreless draw at McDiarmid Park just before Christmas.
There have been three red cards brandished in those five games, with Saints down to ten last weekend as they lost by a single goal.
Hearts have shut St Johnstone out in their last three meetings, while the Jambos previous six Scottish Cup games have all produced under 2.5 goals.
Another 1-0 home win is priced at 17/4 here, which is a fair shout, but we will side with Hearts to win and under 2.5 goals in the match at 41/20 for the best bet in the Scottish Cup last-16 this weekend.
Value is tough to find this weekend, with the likes of Celtic, Rangers and Kilmarnock all long odds-on for victories.
Like Hearts, Aberdeen will be determined to keep their cup run going. The Dons have put a league defeat at Ibrox last month behind them, with three quick Premiership wins seeing Derek McInnes’ team scoring ten goals and collecting nine points.
They welcome an out of sorts Dundee United side to Pittodrie on Sunday. The Tangerines have managed just a single win in five games in the Championship lately, allowing St Mirren to take total control of top spot.
Victory over Alloa in the previous round was a rare positive turn for manager Csaba Laszlo since the turn of the year. His side has shipped nine goals in their three most recent league outings, scoring just once.
They may be in for another tough afternoon against free-scoring Aberdeen on Sunday, with the home side fancied to win this game with a bit to spare, ensuring the Dons to score over 2.5 goals is the pick at 27/20.
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