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Victory won't take Coast lightly: Muscat

AAP logoAAP 27/12/2016 Jason Phelan

Current form, recent history and most statistics point to a Melbourne Victory win over Central Coast.

But coach Kevin Muscat isn't taking the Mariners lightly.

Victory kick off a busy post-Christmas schedule when they host Paul Okon's side at AAMI Park on Wednesday night and they enter the clash in top form.

Victory have four wins and a draw from their past five games to sit third on the A-League ladder, while the Mariners have dropped to ninth after suffering three defeats in a row.

Muscat's side is undefeated in the past nine games against Central Coast, but that means little to the coach.

"I'm very wary of (making) assumptions ... if we don't perform well we don't win," Muscat said.

"There's no point worrying about the result, let's worry about our performance.

"Paul has done an exceptional job with Central Coast since he came in late in the pre-season. They've adapted and changed a bit from when he first got there.

"They like to keep possession of the ball and drag you around and wait for opportunities.

"But, it's no disrespect, it's like every game. We go in and expect to win. It's irrelevant who the opposition is."

Wednesday night's match is the first of seven games in a busy month for Victory, with the rescheduled away clash against Wellington taking place on January 17.

Muscat concedes it's a big task but he couldn't be happier with how his squad is placed to attack the pivotal part of the season.

"Our preparation has been very good ... we come into a busy period with a clean bill of health," he said.

"There's some good competition for places and that's where you want to be at this time of the year.

"We put the work in months ago for this period of the season where we've got a lot of games.

"We didn't anticipate that the Wellington game was going to be sandwiched in there but it is and we're more than confident that we've prepared well enough to combat this period."

So happy is Muscat that he doubts Victory will be an active participant when the A-League's January transfer window opens.

"You never say no, but what I will say is that if nothing changes I'll be more than happy with the squad," he said.

"Right now I'm very pleased with the squad that we've got but if something comes up we'll look at it. We'll treat it with respect on merit."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Melbourne Victory are undefeated in their last nine games against the Mariners, only once conceding more than a single goal in a game across that span.

* Central Coast Mariners have won against Melbourne Victory on only three of their 16 excursions to Melbourne to face them, the most recent of which came in a brace of wins in 2009.

* Besart Berisha, the A-League's equal-highest goal scorer overall, has scored five goals in his last three games and five goals in his last four games away from home.

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