Victory goes on the attack

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is planning to unleash a three-pronged strikeforce in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash against arch-rivals Sydney FC at Telstra Dome with the home side vowing to go on the attack despite being without star striker Archie Thompson.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick is planning to unleash a three-pronged strikeforce in Saturday night's blockbuster Hyundai A-League clash against arch-rivals Sydney FC at Telstra Dome with the home side vowing to go on the attack despite being without star striker Archie Thompson.

Despite Thompson having to sit out the next two games after being sent off during last week's loss in Newcastle, Merrick will not go on the defensive against Sydney in a game that Melbourne must win to maintain top spot on the table.

Merrick revealed on Thursday that attacking midfielders Carlos Hernandez and Tom Pondeljak will play alongside Thompson's regular strike partner Daniel Allsopp on Saturday night.

"We will probably go with a front three of Pondeljak, Allsopp and Hernandez and with the quality and depth of our squad we are happy with the way it (the attack) has shaped up (this week without Thompson)," Merrick said.

Merrick has no doubts that both Costa Rica international Hernandez and former Central Coast star Pondeljak can fill the enormous hole left by Thompson's absence.

"Hernandez filled in many times last year (up front) and always scored goals and he is just revelling in that position at the moment," Merrick said.

"He is enjoying moving into a striking role and it means he doesn't have to chase around in midfield and he has been scoring great goals all week (at training) and so has Tommy Pondeljak."

Pondeljak, who is revelling in his return to his native Victoria this season after three seasons in Gosford, says he can hardly wait to play up front in a game likely to attract Melbourne's biggest home game of the season.

"Ernie has earmarked me to play up front with Dan and Carlos and we are looking forward to getting out there," he said.

"Obviously last weekend was a disappointing loss for us but we want to rectify that this week."

Pondeljak says the chance to play in front of the kind of 30,000 plus crowds the Victory is expected to attract against Sydney on Saturday night was one of the main reasons behind his return to Victoria this season.

"It's been tremendous and it's obviously nice to be home with the family but the biggest thing is going out and playing in front of the fantastic fans we have got," he said of his return home this season.

"Obviously we have got the best fans in the country by a mile and to go out there and play in front of them every second week is just a great feeling."

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.