Speaking in the aftermath of another explosive Edinburgh derby, Hibs head coach Nick Montgomery said - repeatedly - that he felt his side had deserved the three points while his opposite number Steven Naismith felt a draw was a fair result.

But the data doesn't really back up the claims of the Hearts manager. 

Hibs come close to season xG record

According to StatsBomb, Hibs posted their second-highest expected goals (xG) total of the season. Their 2.46 xG was second only to the 2.62 xG recorded in the goalless draw with Dundee in late September. The 2.45 xG recorded during the 2-0 victory over St Johnstone earlier in September is Hibs' third highest, and they posted their fourth-highest xG of the season last weekend in the 2-1 win against Dundee (2.17 xG). 

Hibs Observer: Hibs' shot map from the derby. All but six of their shots were from inside the boxHibs' shot map from the derby. All but six of their shots were from inside the box (Image: StatsBomb)

The data also shows that Hibs created the better chances. Nine of their 21 shots on goal had an xG value of over 0.10 (i.e. an expectation that it would result in a goal one in ten times) and four had a value of 0.20 or higher, including Martin Boyle's shot (0.38 xG) that led to the goal scored by Emiliano Marcondes (0.37 xG).

It was also noticeable just how many of their efforts on goal came from inside the penalty area - all but six of their 21 attempts were inside the box and of that 15, 11 of them - just over 73% - came from that sweet spot between the posts and within 15 yards. 

Hearts had just two, one of which was Lawrence Shankland's penalty. 

The total of 2.46 xG outdid Hearts' 1.43, more than half of which comprised the spot-kick and StatsBomb's race chart (the shape of the game, as shown by cumulative expected goal values of all shots) suggests that if the match, as it was, took place 100 times, Hibs would win 57 times out of 100 and lose 21 times. 

Hibs Observer: StatsBomb race chart for Hearts 1, Hibs 1StatsBomb race chart for Hearts 1, Hibs 1 (Image: StatsBomb)

Hibs' strengths revealed by passing network 

StatsBomb records the passing network for both teams and assigns an on-ball value (OBV) to each player. OBV was introduced by StatsBomb in 2021 and evaluates all actions on that take place on the pitch, containing Goals For and Goals Against components in the model to accurately measure the risk/reward of each action. Sometimes, players who have impacted the game in a big way don't have as high an OBV as you might think - such as Myziane Maolida against Dundee. 

Emiliano Marcondes was at the centre of most that was good about Hibs at Tynecastle and unsurprisingly came out on top with the second-highest OBV for Hibs, behind Martin Boyle and slightly ahead of Lewis Miller. Marcondes was the stand-out for Hibs in the first half, while Boyle was the star man in the second period in terms of OBV.

But it is the passing network map that offers a greater insight into how well Hibs played. Those represented by circles coloured pinky-red/orange are deemed to have been the most influential in terms of OBV. For Hibs, based on the starting XI, Boyle, Marcondes, and Miller were the stand-outs, with Joe Newell also ranking fairly high. 

Hibs Observer: Passing networks for Hearts and HibsPassing networks for Hearts and Hibs (Image: StatsBomb)

After impressive numbers in Montgomery's first few matches, Hibs' xG value nosedived  from December 9, recovering slightly for the Edinburgh derby on December 27, but not really coming close to anything resembling respectable until the 2-1 defeat by Celtic on February 7. A big part of the improvement in xG has been moving to a 433/4231 set-up, getting Martin Boyle back from international duty, and bringing in Marcondes and Myziane to bolster the attack. 

Although Myziane was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance with 20 minutes remaining, and Dylan Vente saw four efforts blocked; between the four of them, they had 16 shots with a combined xG value of 2.07. 

Trending in the right direction

In terms of xG, Hibs are trending in the right direction and have been since the St Mirren horror show at the start of February. 1.22 xG against Celtic was followed up by 1.24 xG against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The 2-1 victory over Dundee produced an xG of 2.17, and the Edinburgh derby 2.46 xG. 

The tactical tweak from 442 to a three-man midfield is clearly suiting Hibs, but so too is having their best players available in the final third. Based on the performances against Dundee and Hearts - with Vente and Myziane scoring against the Dark Blues, and Boyle and Marcondes combining for the goal at Tynecastle - it would be no big surprise to see Montgomery stick with the same front four, if not the same overall starting XI for the visit of Ross County on Saturday. 

So often this season, Hibs have done everything right until they reach the penalty area, and paltry xG values have backed that up time and again. On recent evidence, Montgomery has solved that particular problem and in all likelihood, boosted Hibs' chances of sealing a top-six finish. Three points on Saturday is vital for a start, but it's not unthinkable that Hibs could put together a run and finish the season strongly.