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Falkirk v Hearts preview

After a good start to the season, Hearts travel to the Falkirk Stadium tomorrow. With Rangers entertaining Kilmarnock at Ibrox tomorrow, we know a win would take us into the top two with one of our own trips to Ibrox already out of the way.

The international break came at a bad time for Csaba Laszlo, who has already stated that with so little time to prepare, it will be difficult to prepare the team and continue the momentum, which has seen his side take nine points from a possible twelve so far this season.

The most worrying thing for me, however, is that Falkirk are bottom with no points. This usually means that we are likely to give them their first point(s).

Last season when we visited Inverness, they were bottom of the league with no points after six games played. We surrendered a 1-0 lead and finally went down 2-1. Two weeks ago St Mirren were one of only two sides in Scotland still not to have scored and, as I predicted, they got their first against us. It remains the only goal they have scored in the league this season.

There are many other examples of this type of thing over recent years and I hope that we can buck the trend and get the result we really should be getting on Saturday.

Falkirk were many people’s tip, including mine, to break into the top six this year after some impressive signings. However, a poor start, not helped by the amount of injuries, has left them looking to get some points on the board before they can even think about going on to the “next level” – a favourite phrase of manager John Hughes.

Falkirk are often praised for their willingness to play a slick passing game but this has sometimes contributed to the team’s downfall as good football doesn’t always bring success. With the resources available to Hughes he would maybe be better off with a more direct approach with two banks of four, taking a ‘safety first’ appraoch.

In saying that, a fully fit Falkirk squad, even with his preferred 4-1-3-2 formation, would cause most teams in the division problems but the casualty list is still pretty long going into tomorrow’s match.

Burton O’Brien, Thomas Scobbie and Steve Lovell are all on the road to recovery, they all appeared as substitutes against Inverness and could feature again on Saturday. Neil McCann, who struggled with injury for almost his entire second spell at Hearts is allegedly on his way back, although I will believe this when I see it.

Hearts have their own injury problems to worry about and it seems that new signing Mike Tullberg’s thigh problem is worse than first thought. He is currently seeking help in his homeland and it is not know when he will be available. Robbie Neilson has undergone an operation and has targeted a November return; Bruno Aguiar will be ready for the reserves soon.

The invisible man, Mirsad Beslija, has yet again picked up an injury and will be at least another month. Honestly, I have given up hope on this boy!

So it should be more of the same in terms of team selection for Hearts. New signing Adrian Mrowiec could be in contention after missing the birth of his child to play in a closed door match against St Johnstone, although he may have to get in the queue of central midfielders at the club already.

He is a defensive midfielder and since we have been playing a centre half – Karipidis – in this position, he may find himself in the team sooner rather than later. Ruben Palazuelos, who has sat patiently on the bench this season, must be wondering if he will get many chances this season and when Aguiar is fit Csaba will have a tough time keeping everyone happy.

Although Hearts have had the better of the Falkirk since their promotion in 2005, the Falkirk Stadium hasn’t provided the Hearts support with the most memorable occasions. In the five visits since Falkirk moved to their new home we have only won their once, with the Bairns winning two and the other two ending in draws.

They also got the better of us last season, culminating in a lacklustre display which ended in a 2-1 defeat.

This season we are more organised and more dangerous going forward. Driver and Stewart are on form, Mole will work the centre halfs and Kello had made an impressive start – even for someone on loan from Kaunas.

Falkirk have some exciting young players in Scott Arfield and Mark Stewart but they look incredibly weak defensively and if we perform, we should be heading back to Tynecastle with another three points. ‘mon the Hearts!!

And another thing…

The transfer window closed with failed, late attempts attempts to bring Derek Riordan and Alan Gow in on loan, with both agreeing moves to other clubs instead. Riordan opted for city rivals Hibs, the team he moved to Celtic from, for more than double what the Champions paid for him two years ago.

So, his career has been set back two years after he languished in the Celtic reserves, obviously not favoured by Gordon Strachan even though the little ginger one mentioned at one point last season that he could have done with a few extra strikers?? Further to this, Celtic have made a profit and have apparently secured a sell-on fee, should Riordan decide to desert his beloved club once again.

That is not even to mention the off-field baggage he comes with and the fact that half of the Hearts support would have been on his back if he didn’t start performing from the off. We probably could have done with another striker but we still have Tullberg and Nade to return to full fitness.

In the end I am glad we didn’t sign him.

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