Hearts value to reach final
Our Gareth Friel previews this weekend's Scottish League Cup semi-finals, with Hearts fancied to reach another final at a big price.
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Thirty-two points separate Inverness and Hearts in the Scottish Premiership as the two sides prepare to do battle for a place in the final of the League Cup.
Even allowing for Hearts' 15-point deduction there would still be an 18-point gap between the pair so it's not much of a surprise to see Caley Thistle at a best of 8/11 to win Sunday's match at Easter Road and make it through to the final to face St Johnstone or Aberdeen.
However, a look at recent form tells a different story with Inverness having won just one of their last seven and Hearts picking up an impressive and unexpected four points from their last two away games at St Johnstone and Ross County, followed up with a home win against St Mirren.
Hearts won through against the Highlanders at the same stage last season on penalties and have a decent cup pedigree in recent times.
They may be certainties for relegation but seem to be able to play with more freedom away from Tynecastle, although whether that will carry on into a cup semi where they will have the majority of fans is unclear.
However, surely they should not be as big as 17/4.
Under John Hughes, Inverness have generally failed to impress and I don't see any reason to trust them at such short odds.
Given all of the above, Hearts look excellent value. They played on Wednesday night though and are so short on resources that it may pay to play it slightly safe and go for them in the draw no bet market at 14/5.
In the other semi, Aberdeen take on St Johnstone on Saturday.
The Dons were 2-0 winners at McDiarmid Park earlier in December and have only lost one of the last eight against the Perth-based Saints.
Derek McInnes' side are second in the Premiership table largely thanks to goals in the latter stages of games.
They've scored 11 'key goals' in the last 10 minutes of matches which shows the spirit McInnes has instilled at Pittodrie.
The Dons are favourites for this one. It could be another tight affair but I fancy them just to edge it.
This time the hero late on could well be new signing Adam Rooney.
The former Inverness man joined the Dons from Oldham and scored last weekend against Motherwell on his debut.
He has a proven scoring record in Scotland and at 11/2 is worth backing to score the last goal.
- The Hearts v Inverness game is being televised live in the UK on BBC Scotland.