Heart are unbeaten in their last five games and will be looking to set a club record of six against Central Coast.
Date: Saturday, 26 November 2011 Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Stadium
Head-to-head Played 3: Wins: Central Coast 2, Melbourne Heart 0, Draws: 1
Previous encounter Melbourne Heart 1, Central Coast 1, AAMI Park, February 2011
History: These two teams certainly don't have the most exciting of histories between them. In fact only four goals have been scored in three matches played. But the Mariners will always play a significant part in Heart's history as Central Coast was their opponent in their very first Hyundai A-League match back in August 2010.
Form: Past five matches: Central Coast: LWWDW Melbourne Heart: DDDWW
The Mariners have rediscovered their touch after a slow start to the season and have climbed up into second on the Hyundai A-League table by winning three of their last four. Last Saturday night, they produced a thrilling 3-2 win over Sydney where a late Brett Emerton goal for the Sky Blues ensured it was a nervous last few moments for Graham Arnold's men.
Heart, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last five games and will be looking to set a club record of six in this encounter. In their last two matches they've found the killer instinct lacking earlier this season, with a 3-0 win over Newcastle being the biggest victory in club history, while a 2-1 win over Gold Coast was notable for the fact they plugged away and earned a winner.
Match Committee: Graham Arnold will be without goalkeeper Matt Ryan and the versatile Oliver Bozanic for another week as both youngsters represent Australia in the Qantas Olyroos Olympic qualifiers. Another youngster in Mustafa Amini must also be close to his first start of the season after coming onto the park in the 61st minute last weekend.
There's good and bad news for Heart coach Jon van 't Schip. The good is that Aziz Behich returns early from Qantas Olyroos duties after earning a second yellow card of the campaign. However, the bad is that fellow Heart youngster Curtis Good has been drafted in to replace him.
The Under-23 selections have come at a bad time for Heart as Alex Terra (hamstring), Nick Kalmar (back), Kamal Ibrahim (ankle), Adrian Zahra (knee) and Kliment Taseski (broken foot) are all on the sidelines. Zahra, though, has now played two matches in Heart's National Youth League side.
Danger men: Patrick Zwaanswijk and Matt Simon - Not happy with having the coolest name in the league, Zwaanswijk also produced a contender for goal of the year with his cracking free kick last week. But coach Arnold actually believed it was Matt Simon's creativity that set up the victory over Sydney.
Matt Thompson - Thompson had a difficult start to the campaign after not being selected as club captain to replace Simon Colosimo. However, you don't always need a title to be a leader as his inspirational performance against Gold Coast demonstrated.
At the end of the day… The Mariners will be going all out to win this one for their skipper Alex Wilkinson who becomes the second player in Hyundai A-League history - after Thompson coincidentally - to play 150 matches. Crucially he's the first to do it with just one club and his team-mates will be looking to honour him in the right way with a huge performance at Bluetongue Stadium against the Heart.
Although Heart are unbeaten in five games, it's difficult to mount an argument for them in this one against a Mariners side that appears to have found its mojo once again as players have returned from injury and overseas loan spells.
Heart also go into this match with a particularly small squad after all the Qantas Olyroos selections and a lot will depend on key players like Thompson, skipper Fred and impressive young defender Michael Marrone.
Already people are talking up Central Coast once again as Brisbane's most likely challenger. That may be slightly premature but it will take nothing away from Heart if they pull off what would be a famous win on Saturday.
Squads Central Coast Mariners Squad: 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Brad Porter, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Rostyn Griffiths, 9. Bernie Ibini, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 12. Troy Hearfield, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 19. Matt Simon, 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 21. Sam Gallagher, 22. Mustafa Amini, 30. Nathan Denham (Gk) *three to be omitted*
In: 5. Brad Porter (Promoted), 16. Trent Sainsbury (Promoted), 21. Sam Gallagher (Promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: 1. Mathew Ryan (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty - 1 week), 11. Oliver Bozanic (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty - 1 week), 13. Stuart Musialik (Adductor - 1 week), 15. Brad McDonald (Qantas Australian Under 23 duty - 1 week), 23. Adam Kwasnik (Ankle - 1 week)
Melbourne Heart Squad: 1.Clint BOLTON (gk), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 5.FRED (c), 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.MAYCON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 18.Curtis GOOD, 19.Eli BABALJ, 25.Adrian MADASCHI, 30.Sebastian MATTEI (gk) *two to be omitted*
In: Kristian SARKIES (promoted), Aziz BEHICH (returns from international duty) Out: Nil Unavailable: Nick Kalmar (Back - 4 weeks), Kliment Taseski (Foot - long term), Kamal Ibrahim (Ankle - 2 weeks), Alex Terra (Hamstring - 1-2 weeks), Jason Hoffman (international duty), Mate Dugandzic (international duty)