Hearts travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena to play Livingston on Sunday in the Scottish Premiership. Both teams head into this match following a midweek defeat, and both need points for very different reasons, with the hosts in the relegation zone while the visitors are in the title race.
Hearts are currently in the third position on the table, while Livingston are struggling to get out of the relegation zone and are 11th. Hearts are on 27 points from 16 games, while Livingston have only 13 points from 15 games.
Livingston have lately fallen into the relegation zone as a result of their poor results, and the Lions are only two points from the bottom of the table, bringing even more pressure to this encounter. Despite Ross County breathing down their necks, the team is only one point behind St Johnstone, with a win possibly moving them out of the relegation zone. Livingston recently followed a trio of draws with consecutive defeats as they kicked off the December fixtures with a 0-2 loss against Aberdeen.
Livingston have generated the lowest xG this season, and have struggled to score goals. The Lions have the lowest number of shots on goal and struggled to create chances in their recent game against Aberdeen. They only managed to attempt two shots on goal which were off target. Livingston will have to be more effective in front of the goal if they need a positive result from this fixture. Hearts, on the other hand, have been the third-best performers while going forward in the league. Their overall expected goal rate for the season is 21.95, scoring 25 goals.
Despite the fact they are at the opposite end of the table in third, Hearts were also defeated in midweek when they faced Celtic, losing out 0-1. It is a result that has left the team with more work to do if they want to remain in the title race, as they now sit five points behind the Hoops and nine points away from Rangers.
The above visual shows us the shot map for Hearts in their previous game against Celtic. Hearts had a total of nine shots on goal and had only two shots on target. Most of their shots were from inside the penalty area but were off target, which is why they generated a lower xG. Celtic have the best defense in the league, but Hearts still managed to get nine attempts on goal. Hearts will be more effective in front of goal against Livingston and will have a higher xG.
On paper, this match will be a welcome fixture for Hearts, who are in desperate need of a streak of good performances over the winter break. Robbie Nielson’s men were dominant when they last faced Livingston, recording a 3-0 victory with a trio of different goalscorers, which is something they will be keen to repeat.
Livingston predicted starting lineup:
Stryjek, Penrice, Parks, Obileye, Fitzwater, Omeonga, Holt, Devlin, Forrest, Bailey, Anderson.
Hearts predicted starting lineup:
Gordon, Kingsley, Halkett, Souttar, Smith, Devlin, Haring, McKay, McEneff, Woodburn, Boyce.