CAN Hearts maintain their unbeaten record when they take the trip to Ibrox this Friday night. We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) for his thoughts.
Rangers v Hearts | Friday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
Well who would have envisaged this when the fixtures were announced back in the mid-summer? Unbeaten Hearts a staggering 13 points clear at the top of the table ahead of a Rangers side in turmoil on and off the pitch.
Rangers (who were chalked up at 2/7 to win the Championship back in the summer) have drifted in the betting for this match and are a best price 31/20 with BetVictor after being as short as 11/10 with the same firm on Sunday. In all the books Rangers are favourites. Should that be the case? I’m not so sure.
The Gers have lost five games this season and even though they’ve won seven of their last eight league matches at Ibrox there have been a few laboured performances. Drawing with Alloa and limping past Cowdenbeath and Livingston were part of the reason for Ally McCoist’s exit from the club and in truth the club is under a massive cloud at the moment.
Their emphatic rise through the bottom two divisions was supposed to set them up for a third successive title this season but it just hasn’t materialised. The alarm bells began ringing on August 10th when they lost this fixture 2-1. Eyebrows were raised that day but it’s set the trend for the rest of the season. A Ramsden’s Cup loss to Alloa and four more league defeats have followed.
For Hearts it’s been a glorious season. Unbeaten after 20 league games, two wins out of two over Rangers and a barely-believable 13 points clear in January. Rangers should have read the Hearts manual entitled, ‘How To Emerge From A Financial Crisis Prudently And Sensibly’. But they didn’t.
While the rampaging victories of autumn have been replaced by the getting-the-job-done wins of winter (forget last week) Hearts are still a side to trust. I think they’ll be too strong, savvy and proud to lose to Rangers on Friday and I think there’s reason to suggest Kenny McDowall’s side will not be relishing this fixture one bit. Hearts definitely have the upper hand on them.
There’s a plethora of bets I like in this game. My favourite is the 8/13 (William Hill) on Under 1.5 Rangers Goals but it’s too short to put up here. I can’t see Hearts losing. I can see Hearts winning. But then the draw is a bigger price than both those. Hmm.
Ok, I’m dipping into the Asian Handicap market and backing Hearts -0.25 at 27/20 with Bet365. This means half my stake goes on Hearts 0 and the other half on Hearts -0.5. If the game ends in a draw I’ll get half my stake back, if Hearts win I get paid out at 27/20. I’m confident Robbie Neilson’s side won’t lose so this bet suits me.
Rangers v Hearts – Hearts -0.25 Asian Handicap (27/20 Bet365)