Preview: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

Matches between these two teams have generally resulted in plenty of goals with 59 scored in the 20 clashes between the two over the journey.

Date: Friday February 10 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Head-to-head Played 20: Wins: Victory 8, Mariners 7, Draws: 5

Previous encounter Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne Victory 0, Bluetongue Stadium, January 2011

History: Matches between these two teams have generally resulted in plenty of goals with 59 scored in the 20 clashes between the two over the journey. The Mariners have held sway this season, winning one and drawing the other of the two matches which have both been played in Gosford. Now departed Mariner Matt Simon scored both goals in the 2-0 win five weeks ago.

Form: Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: DDDLD Central Coast Mariners: LWWDW

Summary of form: Victory have yet to secure a win under new coach Jim Magilton, drawing four and losing one since he took over in January. They were unlucky not to get three-point results against Sydney and Gold Coast, conceding late equalisers in both matches, while they were outplayed for large chunks of the game against Heart, but got away with a point. Victory are still three points adrift of the top six with seven matches left.

The table-topping Mariners dropped their first game in 16 last week against the Roar, but it is unlikely to prevent them from racing to the premiership. They are seven points clear on top and are playing some very good football. Prior to the loss to Brisbane, they defeated Adelaide and Melbourne Heart in somewhat fortunate circumstances.

Match Committee: Victory pair Adrian Leijer and Harry Kewell are both still carrying shoulder injuries but are expected to play having got through the derby last week. Grant Brebner has an ankle injury and is also suspended which will lead to a reshuffle with Mark Milligan a chance to come into midfield and Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo a possible debutant in defence. Carlos Hernandez could come into consideration for a starting position.

The Mariners will have to wait to give Hearts striker John Sutton his debut, meaning Bernie Ibini and Daniel McBreen will likely get a reprieve. Mat Ryan remains on international duty, leaving Justin Pasfield to deputise in goals. He drew a bit of criticism last week, so will be looking for a better performance. John Hutchinson is back from suspension but Pedj Bojic (knee) and Troy Hearfield (hamstring) are out.

Danger men: Mark Milligan - Milligan has adapted very well back into the Hyundai A-League and looms as a very important player for Victory running into the finals. He could be used in a midfield role this week, which will enable him to show us how he has developed as a footballer during his time in Japan.

Josh Rose - The left back has been one of the Mariners most consistent players all season, backing up his brilliant 2010-11 campaign. He is a crucial part of Graham Arnold's plans in both defence and attack and Victory will need to nullify him.

At the end of the day… This is yet another game the Victory must win. It gets repetitive, but their season is hanging by a thread, desperately in need of a spark. But their problem is, they have found ways of losing points, and 10 draws in 20 games says as much for their lack of composure as it does a lack of adventure.

The positives heading into this one is that they are coming off their first clean sheet in 14 matches and that they haven't lost a game as the hosts this year. Despite the Mariners' lofty position on the table, they must attack them and get the three points they so desperately need.

The Mariners did not play well the last time they came to AAMI Park in January, winning 1-0 with a fortunate late winner, but they have not lost at the ground in four trips since it opened ahead of last season.

The loss of an outstanding young keeper like Ryan will always be felt, but to be fair to Pasfield, he is not the reason they lost last week. They created very little and the absence of Oliver Bozanic and Mustafa Amini was noticeable, especially the former who has been a revelation over the past couple of seasons.

So if ever Victory wanted to get the Mariners, it is now under these circumstances. It presents them with a great chance to finally kick-start things. If they miss their chance, they only have themselves to blame.


Melbourne Victory squad: 1. Tando Velaphi (gk), 3. Fabio, 4. Petar Franjic, 5.Mark Milligan, 6. Leigh Broxham, 9. Jean Carlos Solorzano, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 16.Carlos Hernandez, 17.Jimmy Jeggo, 18. Danny Allsopp, 21. Ante Covic (GK), 22. Harry Kewell, 23. Adrian Leijer (c), 24. Ubay Luzardo, 25. Luke O'Dea *two to be omitted*

In: 12. Rodrigo Vargas (promoted), 17.Jimmy Jeggo (promoted), 24. Ubay Luzardo (new signing), Luke O'Dea (promoted)

Out: 8. Grant Brebner (suspended)

Unavailable: 7. Matthew Kemp (injured), 8. Grant Brebner (suspended), 20. Lawrence Thomas (GK) (omitted), 13. Diogo Ferreira (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 2. Matthew Foschini (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 19. Isaka Cernak (Qantas Australian U23 duty)

Central Coast Mariners Squad vs. Melbourne Victory: 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Bernie IBINI, 10. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Tomas ROGIC, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 21. Sam GALLAHGER, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Mitchell DUKE, 31. Brody CRANE (Gk) *one to be omitted*

In: 7. John HUTCHINSON (returns from suspension), 21. Sam GALLAGHER (promoted), 24. Mitchell DUKE (promoted)

Out: 4. Pedj BOJIC, 12. Troy HEARFIELD

Unavailable: 1. Mathew RYAN (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty), 4. Pedj BOJIC (knee - indefinite), 11. Oliver BOZANIC (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty), 12. Troy HEARFIELD (hamstring - 1 - 2 weeks), 22. Mustafa AMINI (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty)