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Central Coast's Arnold: Heart playing for both finals and Skoko

Melbourne Heart will be playing for both a spot in the top six and retiring midfielder Josip Skoko when they host Central Coast Mariners tonight. They are the sentiments of Mariners boss Graham Arnold who is well aware that a team backed into a corner, in desperate need of a win, can come up with the goods at the right time.

That is the position he feels the Heart are in as they strive to make the finals in their debut season whilst hoping to give Skoko a perfect AAMI Park send-off.

"It's bad enough they are playing for their top six lives but with Skokes retiring they'll surely want to send him out a winner," Arnold said yesterday.

"This is it for the Heart. If they lose the season is over for them.

"I've warned the boys that this could be the most difficult game we've faced. They have a lot of big-name players in Skokes, Simon Colosimo, Johnny [Aloisi], Matt Thompson and Gerald Sibon.

"I am expecting that they'll bring Michael Beauchamp back to add a bit of muscle to the defence and I can't see their coach John van't Schip swaying away from the 4-2-3-1 system. I know the Dutch philosophy pretty well. Even so, we have prepared for two systems he might use."

But as the Heart chase a playoffs berth, Arnold and his Mariners are looking for a top-two finish which will give them a double chance, highlighting that the position is theirs for the taking if they want it enough.

"It would be nice to beat the Heart and go six points clear of Adelaide. It's all in our hands," he added.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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