Victory out to attack

Melbourne Victory is determined not to be distracted by a poor recent record against Newcastle with coach Ernie Merrick saying his team will play its usual attacking brand of football in Friday's match at Telstra Dome.

Melbourne Victory is determined not to be distracted by a poor recent record against Newcastle with coach Ernie Merrick saying his team will play its usual attacking brand of football in Friday's match at Telstra Dome.

While the Jets haven't lost to Victory in a Hyundai A-League match since Gary van Egmond took charge in late 2006, Merrick believes his team has to back itself to outplay and outscore the defending A-League champions in its first home match of the season.

"I think it's important that we find out where we're at, at this stage of the season. It would be good, very, very good to get all three points, especially at home," Merrick said.

"All we can do is focus on what we do well. We've gone six games undefeated. It's the first home game, it should be a big crowd. We're looking forward to playing to our strengths and creating as many goalscoring opportunities as we did last week."

Last week saw Victory secure its first win of the season thanks to a dominant 4-2 success over Wellington. Merrick is unlikely to make many changes from his starting XI from that match, with goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos set to return after missing one match with an ankle injury.

Merrick will most likely use Archie Thompson off the bench as Victory's marquee man regains fitness following an ankle injury of his own. Other than that, it's almost a clean bill of health for the team with Nick Ward and Daniel Vasilevski the only players on the injury list.

"We've had a short turnaround. They've only trained three sessions. All have been light and more structural in the organisation of set plays. You can see out there, they are full of enthusiasm. It doesn't appear that there's any lethargy in the team given that training session," he said.

Merrick's faith in his team's style of football winning out on Friday night is partially based on the way Melbourne dominated Newcastle in the Pre-Season Cup match in Port Macquarie.

"We played them in the Pre-Season Cup and did really well and beat them 1-0. They've had a couple of additions since then, we've had about 3-4. It will be a great game, and we'll be out for all three points," he said.

The Melbourne coach is unsure exactly how Newcastle will shape up with van Egmond experimenting with several different formations in the opening two games, which both resulted in draws.

"They've certainly dropped off against us when they've played in the last couple of years. More interestingly, they've changed their formation virtually every game I've seen them play in the Pre-Season Cup and the first two rounds. I would say Gary is either trying to change a couple of things and play either more attacking or defensive football, but he's obviously not happy with his line-up," he said.

The Jets will hope Joel Griffiths can step up as he has in the past against Melbourne. But Merrick has no special plans for the Johnny Warren Medallist.

"We try not to change the way we play. He certainly has in the past done well against us. That didn't happen in Port Macquarie pre-season. That's what the crowd will go and see," he said.

The player who could prove a real mystery for Melbourne is the Jets' Ecuadorian striker Edmundo Zura. Merrick said he hadn't seen much of him play, but believed his strong defence could cope with whatever was thrown at it.

"I really haven't seen enough of him. He's obviously a good player or he wouldn't be here. We've strengthened our backline with Michael Thwaite. The four games previous to last week, we conceded no goals against. We're building on that very string base. There will be nothing special to any teams. We'll play to our strengths," he said.