Bet of the Day: Aberdeen eke out win over Hearts in Premiership

14th September 2021

Our Bet of the Day today takes us to the East Coast of Scotland, as Aberdeen look to enhance their prospects of Europa League qualification by putting one over the visiting Hearts side. Craig Levein’s visitors haven’t got a whole lot to play for – the side that led the league for much of the early running has never quite recovered from a mid-season injury crisis that left the squad threadbare. Nonetheless, the Jambos would enjoy putting the skids under their opponents here, who have finished second in the Premiership for three seasons running but now face a battle to even secure third spot.

On the face of it, this should be all Aberdeen. The Dons have home advantage and something to play for, knowing that a win would take them at least temporarily above Kilmarnock into the Europa League spots – and that Killie have a tough assignment against a resurgent Hibernian tomorrow. Although three points for Hearts would keep them in with a chance of catching city rivals Hibs – which shouldn’t be underestimated as a motivating factor – Levein has intimated that he won’t risk the club’s best players in the final two games of the league season given that Hearts have a cup final date with Celtic in a couple of weeks’ time. So it should be plain sailing for the hosts – but will they slip up under the Friday night lights?

Jambos lacking a cutting edge

While there is no room for complacency in football, there is also little point in deluding oneself, and Aberdeen will come into this game knowing they are facing the worst attack in Scotland’s top six. Since Steven Naismith suffered a season-ending recurrence of an old knee injury, the fizz has gone out of his side’s endeavours in the final third of the pitch. Add to this the likely absence – per Levein’s choice – of striker Uche Ikpeazu and midfield schemer Peter Haring, and the Edinburgh side looks frighteningly blunt where it matters.

Not that the hosts have been rattling them in recently; they’ve scored once in their last three outings, and that against a Kilmarnock side which finished the game with eight players on the pitch. Despite deploying an attacking line-up against Celtic last weekend, they never looked like scoring, and Dafabet’s ⅘ odds on this game having fewer than 2.5 goals in it might well be the best value you’ll find. If you’re feeling brave, fewer than 1.5 is available at 11/5 – but you should factor in that Hearts may well be fielding a seriously inexperienced XI here.

Aberdeen will appreciate an easier game

In the above point, we noted the lack of goals scored by Aberdeen in recent games, which is a valid point to make, but we left out the fact that their past two matches have been at Ibrox against Rangers, and then at home to runaway league champions Celtic. This evening finds Derek McInnes’ side taking on opposition that sits two places and ten points beneath them in the league – and which lacks the superb defensive organisation of Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock. There is every reason to expect the hosts to take a front-foot approach to this game, and it could pay off in goals against a side that has seen its season slip away.

In the absence of Naismith and Haring, Hearts come into this showdown without their top scorer and the person who’s running a distant second to him for that honour. The highest-scoring player they field this evening will have, at most, three goals to his name for the season. Meanwhile, the hosts can call upon Sam Cosgrove, who has sixteen goals from his 33 games so far this season. The Englishman is 23/10 with William Hill to score first here, and he’s worth a punt even at those short odds given that no other player on the pitch is even approaching double figures.

Aberdeen to take the lead and keep it

While the Dons have this season fallen short of the heights they were hitting in the last few seasons, they have to be seen as the comfortable favourites here given Hearts’ limitations both enforced and self-inflicted. Boss Derek McInnes knows that European football is expected of his side, and it won’t be achieved via the cups. Fourth place would be good enough if Celtic win the Scottish Cup, but third place would guarantee it without the need for a nervy Saturday afternoon in a fortnight’s time. Therefore, Aberdeen should bring considerable motivation into this encounter.

Between that motivation, home advantage and the likely rain that will suit the hosts more than the visitors, we’d expect the Dons to have little difficulty posting the win they need to keep pressure on Kilmarnock. There’s plenty of value in Betway’s offer of 5/4 for the hosts to be in the lead at half-time and win the game, so that’s a bet worth taking.

Bets of the Day

Under 2.5 goals in game (Dafabet, ⅘); Cosgrove to score first (William Hill, 23/10); Aberdeen/Aberdeen HT/FT (Betway, 5/4)

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