Mariners chase slice of history

Graham Arnold's Central Coast Mariners side stand on the cusp of history with fierce rivals Newcastle Jets standing between them and a club-record 13-match unbeaten streak.

Graham Arnold's Central Coast Mariners side stand on the cusp of history with fierce rivals Newcastle Jets standing between them and a club-record 13-match unbeaten streak.

An eight-point lead on top of the Hyundai A-League table is just reward for Arnold's troops, who have responded brilliantly to the heartbreak of losing last season's grand final to Brisbane Roar on penalties after being in a seemingly unlosable position.

And let's not forget their stuttering start to the season when they claimed just one point from a possible nine in their first three matches.

Since then the Mariners have been untouchable - winning 10 of their next 12 games, with the only blemishes being goalless draws with Melbourne Victory and Gold Coast United.

Crucially, they have been able to grind out wins when not playing at their absolute best - a mark of all successful teams - but Arnold is aware there is still more work to be done.

Speaking after their scrappy 1-0 win over Sydney FC on Sunday, the Mariners coach left his team in no doubt he would not be satisfied by a comfortable lead on top of the A-League.

"The second half showed we have to be better," Arnold said.

"As we say to the players 'don't look at the table'. We have to play every game on its merits."

Saturday's F3 derby against Newcastle at Bluetongue Stadium is a case in point with the Jets joining Brisbane as the only two teams to get the better of the Mariners this season.

Arnold's side had their revenge for their 1-0 loss at Ausgrid Stadium in week three with a 2-0 triumph at home on December 10, and the Mariners head into Saturday's clash looking to claim a slice of history as well as the bragging rights over Gary van Egmond's team.

Van Egmond himself fuelled the flames of derby fire when speaking before their last clash, claiming the Mariners were still mentally scarred by their 1-0 loss to the Jets in the 2007/08 grand final.

"I think that one nagging thing in the back of their minds is that we have won a grand final and they haven't," van Egmond said last month.

"Until they get over that it is going to be difficult for them in some respects especially with some players who are still in the playing group who were in that grand final against us."

"We have a better edge as far as that is concerned."

Van Egmond's words have some credence - there is no doubt Arnold will not be satisfied until he has taken his squad to a championship.

And with the form they have shown for much of this campaign, it would be a brave man who would bet against the perennial bridesmaids going one better than they did in 2005/06, 2007/08 and 2010/11.