Merrick alert to Fury

It may be a battle of first versus 10th and the Hyundai A-League's best attack against its worst defence, but Sunday's match between Melbourne and North Queensland is one that Victory coach Ernie Merrick is approaching with caution.

It may be a battle of first versus 10th and the Hyundai A-League's best attack against its worst defence, but Sunday's match between Melbourne and North Queensland is one that Victory coach Ernie Merrick is approaching with caution.

Melbourne has scored more goals than any other side this season, with 31 in 19 matches, while the Fury's defence has leaked 37, eight more than any other team.

It would appear to play perfectly into the hands of Melbourne's in-form striker Archie Thompson, but Melbourne's previous experience in Townsville in August has Merrick predicting a tight tussle.

"We don't think they are there for the taking, it's about us playing good quality football in fairly oppressive conditions," Merrick said.

"This is a stage of the season where most sides are fairly battle-hardened and they've had good match time and more and more players with experience, it's not going to be an easy game."

The Melbourne coach is not in the habit of underestimating opponents and believes any team is capable of beating any other on any given day.

"I think there's eight games left to play, which is 24 points, and the league is so close, look at Newcastle, they've won four games in a row after a fairly poor run, they are now in the top six."

"I wouldn't take anything for granted and I think, I said it in the first game we played that, that the Fury will always be tough to beat particularly at home."

Melbourne emerged from a tight game against North Queensland earlier this season with a 1-0 win in typical humid conditions in Townsville. Merrick thinks that a hot week in Victoria in the lead-up to Christmas has his side in a better position to travel this time around.

But he won't be asking his players to adapt their style of play because of the conditions or the opponents.

"We don't really change our plans too much. We have our style of play and there is certainly a game plan where we look at individual teams and how we can cash in on strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"I find they are a team that when they (have) been beaten, they always create plenty of chances. You've always got (Robbie) Fowler in and around there. (Dyron) Daal scored two last week. Even when you think the game's all over at 2-0, they bounce back."