Leijer looks to maintain standards
Melbourne defender Adrian Leijer believes the Victory must maintain the standards set in Saturday's 6-2 win over Perth if they are to successfully defend their Hyundai A-League premiership.
Melbourne defender Adrian Leijer believes the Victory must maintain the high standards set in Saturday's 6-2 win over Perth if they are to successfully defend their Hyundai A-League premiership.
The win over Perth, combined with Gold Coast's win in Sydney at the weekend means Melbourne now holds the advantage in the battle for top spot.
Victory may be third on the table but, with a game in hand, they trail ladder-leaders Gold Coast by just two points.
That means that if Melbourne records home wins against Adelaide on Saturday and Wellington on Tuesday, it will be on top of the table heading into the crucial away match against Gold Coast on Friday January 29.
Having impressed with their performance against Perth, Leijer believes confidence has returned to the playing group and that the Premiers' Plate is there for the taking.
"The way we played in that game on the weekend, it gives us confidence to know that if we can play anywhere near that level then we know we can get points and it's a big five or six weeks coming into the close of the season," Leijer said.
"We want to finish in top two, and that's been our goal since day one."
"It gives us confidence, it really is with our situation, so it-s a massive opportunity for us and we-ll be doing everything we can to hopefully finish top, if not the top two."
Melbourne went into the clash against Perth on the back of successive losses but Leijer said the mood of the squad has completely turned on the strength of that win.
"We let ourselves down and the fans down in the past two weeks and we wanted to go out and make amends for our performance, especially the first 45 - I think we did that," he said.
As a central figure in Melbourne's defence, Leijer knows the team depends on him to maintain high standards.
He admits it took him some time to adjust to the Hyundai A-League after returning from Fulham early in the season, but now feels he is getting to his best.
"For me I think, Saturday night it was where I want to be at," he said.
"Defensively I thought I had a good game, along with Rody (Vargas) and Kevin (Muscat)."
"We played really well, we put plenty of pressure on the forwards."
"It just flowed right through the team - it was a great night."
Adelaide is Melbourne's next opponent on Saturday night and while the Reds may occupy bottom spot on the ladder and have lost their past eight encounters against the Victory, Leijer is wary of them.
"They-ve had a disappointing year," he said.
"They-ve had a couple of bad injuries, but it's Adelaide and the Melbourne-Adelaide rivalry is always massive and nothing will be different on Saturday night."
"I suppose it is a game we have to be on our toes for, because they can come at us."
"They'll be out there trying to make a point as well."