Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Hibs v Dundee United: What to expect in Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final

Alan Stubbs (L) and Mixu Paatelainen (Steve Welsh/William Hill/PA Wire)
Alan Stubbs (L) and Mixu Paatelainen (Steve Welsh/William Hill/PA Wire)

Here, Press Association Sport’s Andy Newport looks at the five big talking points ahead of the last-four duel.

Who is the form team?

Ah, good question. If you are looking back across the whole season, then you have got to place the favourites tag on Hibs. But if you prefer to study the teams’ recent results, then it really is a 50-50 call. Alan Stubbs’ Leith outfit have suffered a pretty spectacular loss of momentum, with their promotion hopes now hanging in the balance after picking up just one win in their last eight Ladbrokes Championship fixtures. United have improved since Mixu Paatelainen’s early days at Tanndaice but the fight ran out on Saturday as they lost to Inverness, leaving them hopelessly adrift at the bottom of the Premiership with a 12-point chasm separating them from safety.

Hibs have already beaten United this season – does that tell us something?

Yes and no. The Easter Road side were as impressive as the Tangerines were shocking that night back in November as they claimed a 3-0 League Cup quarter-final triumph. The Taysiders are one of five top-flight sides Hibs have dumped out of cup competitions this term but the January signing of Anthony Stokes on loan from Celtic seems to have backfired on Stubbs with the balance of his side badly disrupted. United on the other hand are unquestionably a better-drilled outfit than they were five months ago. Paatelainin has made changes in personnel, while the return of skipper Paul Paton from injury has added bite to the Finn’s midfield. However, lapses of concentration and the Tannadice squad’s questionable heart are ultimately the reason for their impending relegation.

Who will start between the sticks for Hibs?

This is the big conundrum for the Hibs boss. He complained bitterly about the time-wasting yellow card Oxley received in the quarter-final replay win over Inverness that now rules him out of the Hampden clash with suspension, probably because he knew he was lacking in decent cover. Otso Virtanen, a 22-year-old Finn, has filled the understudy spot on the bench for most of the season but has he has only managed two minutes of first-team action after being thrown on late against Caley Thistle – and even then, he did not look utterly convincing. Former Leicester stopper Conrad Logan was brought in last month but the 29-year-old has not played a meaningful fixture since December, 2014. It is a headache Stubbs could do without.

Mixu Paatelainen is not without selection concerns of his own, is he?

No. The Finn this week jettisoned defender Gavin Gunning from his squad following the bizarre episode during Saturday’s defeat to Inverness, where the injured Gunning picked the ball up before walking off the field to seek treatment. The club insist there is more to his “mutually agreed” exit than that, but it is certainly the last thing the manager needs right now, especially with another of his centre-backs Mark Durnan suspended for the semi-final. Veteran Irishman Sean Dillon will likely be called in to fill the gap but he has not had a season to remember.

How is the new Hampden pitch looking?

On the surface, it was looking lush when Press Association Sport examined in on Thursday. But that’s the issue. While it may look good on top, there are real concerns it will not have had the time required to bed down having only been installed on Monday, leaving both sets of players at risk to serious injury if the turf starts churning up in the heat of battle. Neither Stubbs nor Paatelainen seemed desperate to add to the war of words surrounding the issue when they faced the media this week but expect them to be more than happy to hit out after Saturday’s match if one of their star men comes a cropper on the patched-up pitch.


READ MORE

Gordon Smith: Pressure’s on Hibs and not Dundee United in Scottish Cup tie

Rangers v Celtic: The talking points ahead of Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final