Stats point to Victory's title

Assuming the top four remains as it currently stands at the end of the Hyundai A-League season, Melbourne should feel very confident that it will have the measure of its title rivals in February's Final Series.

Assuming the top four remains as it currently stands at the end of the Hyundai A-League season, Melbourne should feel very confident that it will have the measure of its title rivals in February's Final Series.

The Victory have completely dominated their prospective post-season opposition this season, picking up 22 of a possible 27 points in matches against Adelaide, Queensland and Central Coast.

The only defeat Melbourne has suffered against any of these teams was when Queensland took home all three points at Telstra Dome early in the season, while Melbourne has defeated all three of those teams in the space of the past four games.

That record is superior to that of the championship-winning season of 2006/07, where Melbourne won the premiership by 12 points, but picked up just 16 points against its fellow finalists Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle.

Melbourne has lost just one of its past ten matches against Adelaide, one of its past nine against the Mariners and only three of its past ten against Queensland. That means that out of the past 29 matches between Melbourne and the other likely finalists, Melbourne has lost just five.

It's a dominance that Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is well aware of, but, as is his prerogative, he won't be highlighting it during February. He is almost obsessive about the need for his side to focus on their game, not the opposition, but admits that when it comes to the important clashes, his players perform at their best.

"In every big game, we've stood up. Wee let ourselves down once against Sydney here, and every other game, the confidence has been high and we've given everything," he said.

"We've always had a very positive outlook of what we're capable of this year. You know that things are working. I have no problems, placing a lot of confidence in this group."

It does Merrick little favours to dwell on the records over the Roar, Reds and Mariners. Using historical dominance as a motivating factor for future dominance is fraught with danger, as all good runs come to an end.

That's the motivation for Lawrie McKinna, whose Central Coast side was swept aside 3-0 by Melbourne on Friday, meaning the Mariners have picked up one point from a possible nine against Melbourne this year.

"Those stats are there to be broken. My cup's half full, not half empty. We're looking forward to changing that stat if we meet Melbourne in the finals," McKinna said.

"If we get Melbourne in the finals, we'd be confident we could get a result against them. We showed for the first 65 minutes that we can compete against them."

McKinna's not worrying about revenge yet. There's still the matter of getting his team into the finals first. Merrick's attention, meanwhile, is keeping the pressure on Adelaide, which has prime position for the Premiership with games against the Phoenix and the Mariners to come.

The reason for that is Melbourne's poor record against those teams outside the top four. In contrast to its dominance of those in the top four, Melbourne has picked up just 13 points from a possible 33 against Sydney, Newcastle, Wellington and Perth, with just three points from a possible 21 in the past seven matches against those teams.

That certainly adds an interesting dimension to Melbourne's final match of the season against Wellington at Telstra Dome next Friday.