IN THE LEAD up to Round 19, a fixture change has booked in a top of the table clash, for the second time this season.
And unfortunately, it will also be the second battle between the Demons and the Dogs without a crowd in the stands.
The game at the MCG will decide which side sits atop of the ladder come the end of the weekend, and despite the short notice, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin will be more than prepared.
“It’s had no real implications,” he said.
“We obviously don’t look too far ahead in terms of the draw.
“We certainly knew pretty early on that we were playing the Bulldogs and we’re looking forward to it.”
It will be a big test for the Dees with five games to go before finals, and if they are to knock off the Bulldogs for a second time this season – following a 28-point victory eight weeks earlier – they will need to improve on last week’s efforts against Hawthorn.
“Clearly two teams at the pointy end of the ladder and it’s going to be a great game,” Goodwin said.
“These are the type of games that you look forward to as footy club.”
The Dogs’ midfield looms as the biggest threat, with the names of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Bailey Smith speaking for themselves.
They are ranked first in the competition for handballs, handball receives and clearances – moving the ball forward with speed – and second for disposals, uncontested possessions and goals.
Their forward line is the beneficiary of plenty of supply (ranked second for inside 50s) and they score from 47.9 percent of their entries – the best return out of any side in the league.
While the Dogs were the third youngest team to take the field last weekend, they are a serious threat, and Melbourne will need to match them in the centre to put their backline under pressure on Saturday night.