Preview: Gold Coast United v Brisbane Roar

The M1 derby has usually been the domain of Gold Coast United, but recent results favour the men in orange.

Date: Monday, 26 December 2011 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT, 6.30pm local Venue: Skilled Park

Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Gold Coast 3, Brisbane 2, Draws: 2

Previous encounter Brisbane 3, Gold Coast 0, 21 October 2011

History: The M1 derby has usually been the domain of Gold Coast United, but recent results favour the men in orange. United haven't beaten Brisbane in over two years, and in the last two editions of this fledgling rivalry the Roar have come out on top.

The last time was in October, while Ange Postecoglou's men were still running hot during that undefeated streak, and they emphatically brushed aside Gold Coast's ambitious challenge. Interestingly though, Brisbane have never won on Boxing Day and are yet to defeat their noisy neighbours at their Robina home.

Form: Past five matches: Gold Coast: LLLDW Brisbane: WLLLL

Having put their five-match streak without a win to bed, United will carry overall better form than Brisbane going into Boxing Day. Few would have predicted that some months ago, but it's now the reality - Gold Coast are unbeaten in two, and the Roar are winless in four.

Things are starting to click for Miron Bleiberg's men, with their 3-0 win over Adelaide arguably their best performance since last year's major semi-final. An hour up the M1 and it's a different story, with the Roar still smarting from losing 2-1 to nemesis Central Coast at home on the weekend.

Match Committee: Devastating news for Gold Coast during the week - keeper Glen Moss tore his adductor muscle off the bone in Adelaide and requires surgery, putting him out for two months. It does, however, present an opportunity to young understudy Jerrad Tyson, who is highly rated at the club.

United will also be without Ante Rozic, who picked up two yellow cards at Hindmarsh, but there's a clear replacement - Jonas Salley, who returns from suspension. For Brisbane, injury clouds still hover over four of the club's most important players, but Henrique and Matt Smith are more likely to play than Thomas Broich and James Meyer.

Danger men: Michael Thwaite - The undisputed heartbeat of Gold Coast United. Miron Bleiberg has deployed an interesting three-man defence during the past two matches and not only has it ensured two consecutive clean sheets - the first time the club has achieved that since December 2010 - but it's allowed Thwaite to play a role perfectly suited to his skills.

While the other two defenders remain static, Thwaite is allowed the freedom to roam around, stamp out the fires and even get himself forward on occasion. It's no coincidence that United have looked solid gold since this adjustment.

Besart Berisha - The Albanian predator, who just a few weeks ago was being talked about as one of the hottest strikers in the competition, has been kept quiet of late.

The 26-year-old hasn't found the back of the net over the past four games, and he clearly misses the luxury of service from Broich and Henrique. Berisha's finishing touch is killer, but if the Roar are serious about going back-to-back they need to find a way to get him scoring without going through their usual avenues.

At the end of the day… Local rivalries are meant to be the stuff of legend, and this looks set to be perhaps the most mouthwatering edition of the M1 Derby yet.

Gold Coast and Brisbane could not be more desperate for a win. United need one to make a statement, that there is still plenty of life left in their season. They may be rock bottom of the ladder but things have looked much brighter over the past fortnight, and the competition may finally start to take notice of them if they can kick Brisbane while they're down.

The Roar, on the other hand, need their mojo back. Since rewriting the history books with their 36-game undefeated streak, they've looked limp in attack and nervous in defence. Much hinges on whether or not key man Thomas Broich is available, and whether or not he will be flanked by Brazilian winger Henrique. If those two return, the Roar can win.

But if they don't, and United turn up with the same aggression and heart that earned them a 3-0 win over Adelaide, then this Boxing Day might well belong to the boys from the Glitter Strip. It really is a line-ball game, and you couldn't ask for much more than that.