Preview: Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners

Melbourne Heart and Central Coast Mariners will meet in Round 2 of the 2013-14 Hyundai A-League season at AAMI Park on Saturday, October 19 at 5:30pm AEDT.

Melbourne Heart and Central Coast Mariners will meet in Round 2 of the 2013-14 Hyundai A-League season at AAMI Park on Saturday, October 19 at 5:30pm AEDT.

Head-to-head: Played: 9, Wins: Heart 1, Central Coast 7, Draws: 1

Previous encounter: Central Coast 2-1 Heart, March 30, 2013

Past five matches: Heart: DWLDL Mariners: DLLDW

The game: Melbourne Heart will have to get a result against their bogey team on Saturday if they are to keep their hopes alive of a record-breaking start to an A-League season. In their three seasons in Australia's national competition, Heart's longest run before their first loss of the campaign is just two matches, which they achieved a year ago. After a scoreless draw against derby-rivals Victory in the opening round, Heart's hopes of a long unbeaten streak to open the campaign will be severely tested by the reigning champions in Round Two.

Heart have only beaten Central Coast once in their history and have lost seven of the nine games between the two clubs. The Mariners started their defence of the A-League championship with a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers last week and looked much better going forward than John Aloisi's Heart side. While Aloisi was thrilled with his team's defensive effort against Victory, it remains to be seen whether Heart can break open opposition sides that set out to defend.

In Heart's favour is the fact Mariners head coach Graham Arnold will want Central Coast to dominate the Red and Whites at AAMI Park, which could give the likes of David Williams and Mate Dugandzic chances on the counter-attack. Michael Mifsud will also be back from international duty and Aloisi will be expected to hand the Maltese striker his Heart debut ahead of Golgol Mebrahtu. For the Mariners, Michael McGlinchey should come into the squad after he missed Round One due to an international camp with the All Whites before their friendly versus Trinidad and Tobago.

The big issue: Heart - Can Harry Kewell provide the critical final pass so Heart can score goals? In pre-season fixtures against A-League opposition, the Red and Whites scored just twice in four games. While Heart looked dangerous on the counter-attack against Victory, Aloisi's team struggled to create chances against a set defence. Kewell will be crucial to that if Heart dominate possession at any point versus Central Coast. Mariners - Arnold started Mile Sterjovski up front last week with natural striker Mitchell Duke, who scored the Mariners' goal, on the right wing. Matt Simon came off the bench in the second half but failed to take a shot, while last season's Golden Boot-winner Daniel McBreen remains on loan in China. So who is Central Coast's best option up front? It could be interesting to see Arnold pick Duke in the striker's role and play Nick Fitzgerald, McGlinchey and Marcos Flores behind the young Aussie.

The game breaker: Michael McGlinchey - Up against the reigning A-League champions, expect Aloisi to tell Heart to defend at all costs again on Saturday. If the home side sit back and let Central Coast have the ball, the visitors will need their best passers to break open a defiant Heart. Enter McGlinchey. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder notched seven goals and as many assists for the Mariners in all competitions last season and his neat passing could make the difference in Melbourne.