No special plans for Sydney

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is not interested in playing up the underdog tag ahead of Friday's top-of-the table clash against Sydney at Etihad Stadium, and insists his team will play its usual attacking style and go for the three points.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is not interested in playing up the underdog tag ahead of Friday's top-of-the table clash against Sydney at Etihad Stadium, and insists his team will play its usual attacking style and go for the three points.

Sydney is currently top of the Hyundai A-League on 16 points, one more than Melbourne, which has won its past three matches in succession. The Sky Blues are playing a different style under Czech coach Vitezslav Lavicka and they have been praised for their strong defence this season.

But the fact Merrick has never taken on Sydney in the Lavicka-era does not concern the Melbourne coach, who will insist his men play their natural game.

"I think we've always played a brand of football where we attack quickly, we attack in numbers and we encourage flankers to get forward from defensive positions. That's not going to change," he said.

"Whether the onus is on us, or who the underdogs are, it doesn't matter, we're always expected to win, we are certainly expected to win at home and we have to accept the high expectation that is on us, week in, week out. We'll be going out to play our normal brand of football and play for all three points."

Merrick respects the form of Sydney FC this season, but sees areas of vulnerability which he thinks he can exploit with the players he has at his disposal.

"They are playing really good football. They are at the top of the league, which proves that. I think it will be a great contest for us. We think we see weaknesses as they do with us. But we are going to play our brand of attacking football," he said.

"They are good side, we respect them a lot. But we feel as though it's about attacking football and it's about intensity. I think they are well structured, their defence are pretty organised, they transfer to a good strike force quickly. The boys up front are doing a good job. I'm not sure if (John) Aloisi will play or not, but whoever, they have a good strike force as well."

Melbourne has been boosted by the news that Carlos Hernandez will be available for the match having been left out of the Costa Rica squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Merrick has only a handful of players unavailable and thinks Friday's U-NITE clash will live up to the hype.

"Yes we've got a full compliment. We've been light at training. We've been doing more strategic work than intense work. We're looking forward to top versus second, and Sydney v Melbourne, what more can you ask for?" he added.