A-League preview: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

The league's two best coaches square off at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, in what is also a meeting of two of the competition's most in-form clubs
GOAL.com Indonesia   By OMNISPORT


Ferreira, Franjic, Leijer, Traore
Cernak, Milligan, Celeski
Rojas, Flores, Thompson


Bojic, Sainsbury, Zwaanswijk, Rose
Montgomery, Hutchinson, Rogic
McGlinchley, McBreen, Sterjovski

Both teams head into this clash on Saturday with some quality form behind them. The Mariners may have taken a couple of weeks to click into gear this season, but they have won their last three games - the highlight of which was a 7-2 hammering of Sydney FC.

That clash was followed by a gritty 1-0 win over Wellington in New Zealand on Sunday - no small feat in itself - to move Graham Arnold's side climb to the top of the A-League table once again.

Speaking of slow starts to the season, it did not get much worse than Melbourne Victory's first two weeks under Ange Postecoglou. The team looked dreadful for much of their first-up loss to Melbourne Heart, while things only got worse as they were spanked 5-0 by Brisbane to drop to the bottom of the table.

But since then, Victory have started adapting to Postecoglou's constant movement style and two consecutive wins have taken them off the bottom of the table and into fifth.

There are still queries over Victory's defence, however, as they have conceded twice in both these encounters, but their thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Sydney last Saturday would surely give the squad some serious belief heading into this clash.

Archie Thompson should return to the side after international duty with Australia in South Korea on Wednesday, while it will be intriguing to see if fellow Socceroos team-mate Tom Rogic is also rushed back into the Mariners side after playing a part off the bench.

Troy Hearfield is out of the squad, meaning Adriano Pellegrino or Oliver Bozanic could start if Arnold believes Rogic is not fresh enough.

In a blow for Victory, Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler has withdrawn through a groin injury, with his place to be taken by Isaka Cernak.

Pitting the two highest-rated coaches in the country against each other once more, the result may come down to whether the Mariners' disciplined midfield can stifle Victory's create sources in the middle of the park.

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