Both sides are slowly regaining their confidence, so who will be able to keep that at a high level at the end of this match?
Date: Sunday 6 January, 2012 Kick-off: 4pm AEDT Venue: AAMI Park
Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Heart 2, Roar 3, Draws: 2 Previous encounter Heart 4, Perth 1, November 9, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Heart: WLLLW Roar: LDLWW
The Game Both sides are coming off important wins at the weekend. Heart's hard-fought 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park lifted John Aloisi's side off the foot of the table, while all of a sudden back-to-back wins for the Roar have catapulted them into the top six when all looked doom and gloom heading into Christmas.
After scoring an A-League record 21 goals last campaign, Roar striker Besart Berisha has not quite been able to replicate the same form, but, admittedly, he hasn't benefited from quite the same service. The Albanian notched his sixth goal of the season in a 2-1 win over Wellington on New Year's Day and if the Roar continue their purple patch, he will no doubt provide a headache for Heart's central pairing of Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhart.
Brisbane's attacking trio of Berisha, Ben Halloran (both scored) and Thomas Broich looked as cohesive as they have all season on Tuesday and will need to be again to lead the side to a third straight victory.
New coach Mike Mulvey has had an immediate impact with two wins from his three games in charge but will know how quickly all that good work can come unstuck with consecutive away trips.
The Heart, you sense, are a much better team than their ladder position suggests but rely on their key players perhaps more than any other side. A host of starting 11 players returned to face the Jets and they must stay in the side to prop up one of the smaller squads in the league. Tuesday's 2-1 win snapped a three-game losing streak and another one against the Roar could move Heart up as high as fifth.
The big issue Melbourne Heart - While Heart welcomed back a number of critical first-team regulars in Aziz Behich, Simon Colosimo and Richard Garcia for the Jets clash, the biggest selection surprise was Aloisi's decision to drop veteran Clint Bolton for Andrew Redmayne between the posts. Bolton had started 39 consecutive games for Heart before Tuesday's game and while Redmayne gave away an early penalty, his first selection ensures stiff competition for Bolton.
Brisbane Roar - Thomas Broich delivered perhaps his best performance of the season against the Phoenix on New Year's Day, setting up both goals in a 2-1 win. Last season's Johnny Warren medallist struggled to adapt to a different style of play under sacked coach Rado Vidosic, but has enjoyed a new lease on life under Mulvey in the three games he's been in charge with two goals and five assists to date this season.
The Gamebreaker Ben Halloran attracted plenty of admirers after his old side Gold Coast United were bundled out of the league at the end of last season. The 20-year-old dashing winger spurned Melbourne Victory and ex-Roar boss Ange Postecoglou to stay in Queensland and can light up Brisbane down the right flank. He sparked the Roar with the opener against the Victory when Brisbane were last in Melbourne and was on the scoresheet yet again on Tuesday against Wellington. His battle with Socceroo Aziz Behich provides plenty of intrigue and whoever comes out on top may well prove the difference for their side.
Prediction: Melbourne Heart 1-1 Brisbane Roar Heart have a knack of scoring first at AAMI Park and have done so in five of their seven games there so far this season. Problem is, they have looked decidedly shaky with their noses out in front, dropping four points at home from winning positions, not including Sunday's unconvincing win over Newcastle. The Roar will have generated a great deal of confidence from back-to-back wins and held on well against Melbourne Victory to earn a 1-1 draw in the opening game at AAMI Park a little over a fortnight ago. The sides have had some entertaining clashes in the past, so expect goals but a share of the spoils.