A-League preview: Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar
The latest chapter of one of the league's most intriguing rivalries promises to be another must-watch, with the hosts appearing in far better shape than the Roar
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Bojic, Sainsbury, Anderson, Rose
Montgomery, Hutchinson, McGlinchey
Rogic, McBreen, Sterjovski
Franjic, Smith, Jurman, Stefanutto
Murdocca, Paartalu, BroichHalloran, Berisha, Henrique
Central Coast have a woeful record against Brisbane, but they are well-placed to improve on that when the growing rivalry between the teams continues on Sunday.
Graham Arnold's men sit second on the A-League table and again look like serious title contenders early in the season.
But in 28 meetings against the Roar, the Mariners have lost 16 times, including the famous grand final defeat on penalties to complete the 2010/11 season at Suncorp Stadium.
Many of the Mariners players will remember that fateful day in Brisbane, where they conceded twice in the final four minutes to lose control of a title they appeared to have a firm hold of.
They have no bigger chance to improve that record, having been impressive this campaign while the Roar have faltered.
Rado Vidosic's men returned to winning ways with a victory against Sydney FC last Friday, but beating the Sky Blues at the moment says little about where any team is at.
It was an improved performance on their previous outings - including the 4-1 loss to the Melbourne Heart - but still far from their best.
Without the suspended Patrick Zwaanswijk, the Roar will get more opportunities than they may have with the Dutchman in the centre of defence.
Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was shaky in the 2-2 draw against the Victory, but the teenager can be excused for a one-off poor performance.
Zac Anderson is likely to replace Zwaanswijk alongside Trent Sainsbury, with the settled Mariners sure to persist with a similar line-up, including the in-form Daniel McBreen [seven goals this season] up front.
Vidosic tinkered with Ivan Franjic at the heart of his back four against Sydney, but he is unlikely to persist with one of the league's best full-backs out of position, despite the average form of Matt Jurman.
Ben Halloran has continued to improve and Thomas Broich is slowly recapturing his best form for Brisbane. Mitch Nichols returns to the squad after injury, but could feature from the bench if Vidosic declines to change his winning line-up.McBreen continues to be a game breaker with the form he is in at the moment.
His brace at Etihad Stadium against Victory last Saturday was of high quality. Whether McBreen can continue his rich vein of form remains to be seen, but his finishing - and the way he links with Rogic - makes him a huge threat the Roar will need to contain.
While the history suggests the Roar should be too good, it is impossible to go past the Mariners, who are performing much better than Brisbane in 2012-13.
Arnold's new formation faces a huge test and defensive midfield pairing John Hutchinson and Nick Montgomery have a massive role to play in keeping Roar's attackers away.
Finding goals has not been a problem thanks to McBreen, but replacing Zwaanswijk will be of huge importance.
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Top 3 Predictions
Central Coast Mariners 2-0 Brisbane Roar
- 40 %
Central Coast Mariners 4-2 Brisbane Roar
- 20 %
Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Brisbane Roar
- 20 %
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||12/04/2014||Brisbane Roar 0 - Central Coast Mariners 2|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||02/02/2014||Brisbane Roar 2 - Central Coast Mariners 1|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||10/11/2013||Central Coast Mariners 0 - Brisbane Roar 1|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||17/03/2013||Central Coast Mariners 1 - Brisbane Roar 0|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||01/02/2013||Brisbane Roar 2 - Central Coast Mariners 2|
|Central Coast Mariners|
|19/04/2014||Central Coast Mariners 1 - Adelaide United 0||AUS1|
|16/04/2014||Central Coast Mariners 0 - FC Seoul 1||ACL|
|12/04/2014||Brisbane Roar 0 - Central Coast Mariners 2||AUS1|
|05/04/2014||Perth Glory 3 - Central Coast Mariners 1||AUS1|
|01/04/2014||Central Coast Mariners 1 - Beijing Guoan 0||ACL|