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Saturday, May 7, 2011

FC Tokyo v Toyama: Preview

J2 Matchday 5

Four games played, one win, with one goal scored. Certainly not what we expected life in J2 to be like. The performances of the past week (goalless draws v Sapporo and The Spews) have been pretty dire, and the natives are getting restless...finally...(only about eight months too late). The rumblings of discontent amongst the Aji Sta faithful seem to be ever-increasing, and should reach a crescendo if we fail to beat Toyama, the worst team in J2 not named Kitakyushu last season.

Right, stuff it. Okuma changed a couple of things between last Saturday and the Derby (Casual further forward in a midfield diamond, with Naotake Hanyu on the left of it), but I'm proposing we blow the whole thing up this weekend. I know there's no need to panic after just four games, after all we're only two points behind Shonan, who are third, but nothing we've tried thus far has worked, so I'm pushing the boat out and suggesting 4-3-3.

football formationsThis XI features four changes from Wednesday, and would see Kazumasa Uesato make his FC Tokyo debut at the base of a central midfield three, while The Salad's sending-off in the Derby, and Daiki Takamatsu's general ineffectiveness, means I think Pedro Junior should make his first start for the club as the target man in a front three, where he'd be joined by Yohei Otake, who'd be making his first start since the end of August last year. The little wizard has never really done the business as a first XI player, but I think he deserves his chance here and his creativity and dead ball skills could have a big impact on our overall performance.

Hokuto Nakamura is the other inclusion, and he and Yuhei Tokunaga would be expected to provide energy down the flanks, while along with Takamatsu, the other omitted players are fullbacks Takumi Abe (consider him rested rather than dropped) and Kenta Mukuhara (unlucky, he's been one of our better players thus far, it just appears that Tokunaga is undroppable so he'll shift back to right back).

Ironically, Tokunaga had arguably his best game in the holding role in the Derby, mostly cleaning up Casual's mess after he continuously gave the ball away, but we signed midfielders in the offseason, so let's use them!

This XI should mean there'll be a spot on the bench for Jade North, after he was left out of the squad for the past two games, and there's a school of thought that this is the sort of game he could be thrown into, but I doubt Okuma would be that bold and rest either Yasuyuki Konno or Masato Morishige, and it would be very harsh on Morishige especially, after he was clearly our Man of the Match in the Derby. Our bench would actually be pretty decent here, with Tatsuya Yazawa and Takamatsu among the options to come on second half if we're still chasing a goal.

This is Toyama's third season in J2, and after they made an encouraging start in 2009, finishing 13th (of 18), they regressed quite badly in '10, only finishing above new boys Kitakyushu. Their defence was what really let them down last season, they let in almost two goals a game, by far the worst in the second division.

They attempted to shore things up at the start of this season, by signing (among other players) our promising centre back Ryo Hiraide on loan, but much to our surprise he's played all four games thus far in a holding midfield role, an important part of the spine of their 3-5-2 formation (according to the J.League match summaries, though the guys on the FC Tokyo Damacy show last night seemed to think they play 3-3-3-1!). Ryo's clearly not that concerned about his appearance now he's living in the sticks, as his profile picture on their website shows, but he'll definitely be welcomed back with warm applause by the Tokyo fans.

To be fair to them, they've made a solid start to this season as they sit in ninth on seven points, having stunned Yokohama FC 2-1 away in Matchday 1, then since the resumption losing 3-1 to table-toppers Tochigi SC, drawing away at Tottori and then squeaking past FC Gifu 1-0 on Wednesday. Teruaki Kurobe is their main threat, the experienced striker was their top scorer last season after signing from Fukuoka, and he's already netted twice in the first four games of the new season.

This won't be easy, and you'd expect Toyama to try and clog the midfield as they follow the blueprint, but my formation would hopefully help us spread them out, and we'll be relying on the little wizard and P.J. to put away whatever chances come their way.
After a frustrating week, I'm sticking with the lads.....Home Win.

You'll Never Walk Alone


  1. Bobby Mann Ate My LegMay 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Here's hoping both Otake and Uesato start. Otake offers more from set pieces than anyone else and, as Toyama will no doubt park the bus, his passing could be key.

    Uesato also deserves a chance. Tokunaga at CM was one of the main reasons we got relegated - let's not waste time repeating the mistake this year. Casual also needs a kick up the arse but, with Roberto not fit, he probably won't be dropped.

    And shame on you for wanting to "rest" Abe! We've been so slow and predictable going forward so far but he's been an exception, trying to play crosses in early. Just a shame that we have a) no settled forward line, and b) no one making runs from midfield to take full advantage...

  2. totally different starting lineup. what would happen and what Okuma is thinking about?
    of course I hope fct will win today's game, but on the contrary I also think by losing today's game , I hope new team manager will come and reset this very bad mood. foreign manager I hope, but as Murabayashi mentioned earlier interviews, it depends on fct company's acceptance level. by watching Fukushima's case, Japan utility company's motivation to change and risk assessment is very low.

  3. Another shitty performance by FC Tokyo ! J1 level is far, far away !!

  4. Bobby - My reasoning for giving Abe a rest was that I thought he got turned a few times by balls over the top to Kawano in the Derby, and I wondered if his young legs could handle 3 games in 8 days in the first team, but to be fair to him he was decent again today.

    aikidon - I know how you feel, it was nice to win today, but it was very hard work, and we have to wonder if Mr. Okuma is the man to take us back up.

    Anonymous - Yes, we were average again, and J2 is certainly going to be a hard slog. I guess we have to try and stay positive...