Hearts v Rangers: Has Tynecastle lost its fear factor?

Hearts haven't won a league match at Tynecastle since beating St Mirren 5-2 on 9 November
Hearts haven't won a league match at Tynecastle since beating St Mirren 5-2 in early November

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Hearts host Rangers in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday at a stadium that used to fill visiting fans with dread.

The Edinburgh side are one of only two clubs to have avoided defeat at home to Rangers in the league this season, battling to a 1-1 draw in October at a frenzied Tynecastle.

That was the Gorgie ground at its best and a team rising to the occasion. Yet it is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence.

If Daniel Stendel is to lift Hearts off the bottom of the table, he'll need to improve a record of just one victory from their last 11 home Premiership games.

So how much has Hearts' form fallen off a cliff and which sides are the most formidable on their own patch?

Tynecastle isn't what it was

So far this season Hearts have picked up just eight points from 11 home games. And although that makes up more than half of their 14-point total, it's still drastically lower than what they're used to.

In the 2015-16 season the Tynecastle club averaged 1.8 points per home game in the league - a figure bettered only by Celtic and Aberdeen.

However, that number has generally dropped each season since, and Hearts have the worst home record in the top flight this term with an average of just 0.72 points per match.

Statistically, Tynecastle is now the easiest venue for opposing teams in the Premiership.

The Premiership's real fortresses

It goes without saying that Celtic and Rangers enjoy domination at their home grounds, but there are other teams in the division that can lay claim to over-performing in front of their own fans.

As expected, Aberdeen are third behind the Glasgow duo when it comes to home points won over the last four seasons. Yet Livingston sit proudly in fourth place, above Kilmarnock and then Hibernian.

Although the Tony Macaroni Arena might not strike fear into the hearts of rivals, their artificial pitch has helped the West Lothian side average 1.77 points per home game, albeit over a smaller sample size as they were promoted in May 2018.

It's a trend that Livingston have maintained this season, with 75% of the club's points coming from results at home.

'We have respect for the venue'

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard

Obviously, the environment will be the same, so it will be a tough game at Tynecastle and a tough challenge against a team that has taken points off us in a recent fixture.

It is a team we have got respect for, it is a venue we have got respect for and we will have to be at our best because we weren't last time and we suffered a bit of a set-back.

Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo

[Hearts] use it as a big factor for them and you can see with the crowd being close it is a bit intimidating but you can't use it as an excuse and we just have to be better than last time.

With the noise at Ibrox that is the worst place to go to for opposing players. We know that with the backing of our fans at Tynecastle then we can just be confident.

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