Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

It seems silly to tip against a Mariners victory when they are playing at home. But the loss of Rogic and McBreen will be felt by Arnold's side and as a result, fluidity in the final third will be much harder to achieve.

Date: Monday, December 31, 2012 Kick-off: 6pm AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Head-to-head: Played 23: Wins: Central Coast 14, Perth Glory 4, Draws: 5 Previous encounter: Central Coast 1-0 Perth Glory, October 14 2012

Form: Past five matches: Central Coast: LDWWW Perth Glory: DWWLL

The Game: Central Coast enter their now traditional New Year's Eve home fixture looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat to struggling Sydney FC on Thursday.

The Mariners saw a nine-match unbeaten run come to an end against Frank Farina's side, who won thanks to a late Brett Emerton header. Central Coast struggled to assert their dominance on the contest as a battling, all-effort display from Sydney saw them claim the three points.

In a fiery finish to the match, midfielders John Hutchinson and Tom Rogic were sent off and the red cards will mean Mariners boss Graham Arnold needs to make significant changes for the match against the Perth Glory.

The league's leading scorer, Daniel McBreen - who has netted 10 goals this campaign - will also sit on the sidelines after picking up a yellow card in the second half.

Perth also failed to win, with Nick Ward's terrific late strike giving them a point in a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Glory lacked fluency until the dying stages of the match but will be pleased to extend their unbeaten streak to three matches.

Last season's losing grand finalists are slowly starting to come good and sit fifth on the table, nine points behind the table-topping Mariners.

The Big Issue: Central Coast - How the Mariners replace their suspended trio is of significant interest in this match. While the loss of Hutchinson - a reliable, consistent professional in midfield - is a blow, having Rogic and McBreen on the sidelines robs them of two of their greatest weapons.

Rogic's dismissal - for a lunging tackle on Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant - means Central Coast will be without their playmaker. The 20-year-old is the link between his side's midfield and attack and has been outstanding this season while McBreen's hold-up play, guile and goals have also been vitally important.

The absence of McBreen means Matt Duke could be called upon to partner Bernie Ibini up front for the Mariners, while Mile Sterjovski and Adriano Pellegrino are the favourites to replace Hutchinson and Rogic.

Perth - Glory defender Michael Thwaite suffered a serious calf injury against the Wanderers and is sure to be on the sideline for some time.

The former Gold Coast United and Melbourne Victory defender has been a calming influence at the back for Perth this season, who have conceded just 11 goals in 13 matches.

Consistency amongst the back four is a common theme among good defences and the loss of Thwaite will disrupt Perth's set-up at the back. And although Steve Pantelidis is a handy replacement, the Socceroo will be missed.

The Gamebreaker: Shane Smeltz - The New Zealand striker looked out of touch against Western Sydney but as we all know with predatory strikers, all they need is one chance to score.

Smeltz has scored just two A-League goals in his eight matches this season as he has battled injury. He netted 17 in 26 matches last season and is sure to find form soon.

His clever movement normally worries defenders and he looked more of a threat when partnered by Billy Mehmet against the Wanderers.

Prediction: Central Coast 1-1 Perth It seems silly to tip against a Mariners victory when they are playing at home. But the loss of Rogic and McBreen will be felt by Arnold's side and as a result, fluidity in the final third will be much harder to achieve.

Perth have improved in recent times and we shouldn't forget that after a sloppy start to last season, they came storming home. Ian Ferguson's side have a talented team and Jacob Burns and Liam Miller should be able to dominate the midfield.

That will give the Glory plenty of possession going forward and they look good value to claim a point.