After a successful midweek trip to Okayama, FC Tokyo return home to Ajinomoto Stadium tomorrow evening to face the new chums of J2, Tottori. It promises to be quite an occasion, as its fireworks night, and also ゲゲゲの鬼太郎デー, which is probably quite important to some people but means absolutely nothing to me. Still, whatever floats your boat, eh?
We may, though this is purely speculation on my part, also see Lucas presented to the fans, most likely before kickoff, as his return was officially confirmed by the club yesterday, but he has still not been assigned a squad number.
USAs with last season, we haven't been as convincing at Aji Sta (or Komazawa) as away from home. A lot of that comes down to us being unable to find a way to counter the blueprint, with teams still looking to choke our space, especially at home.
The stats back this up, as in our six home games we've scored only five goals, compared to 11 on our travels (from seven games). But as we continue to round into form, it may take just one outburst of scoring for us to shake off our home blues.
To the squad then, and the rubber match in the On the Gas vs. El Golazo battle over when Naohiro Ishikawa will finally start his first game of the season*.
As with Wednesday (when I was wrong), I'm predicting this will be the game, but on this occasion I think it'll be Tatsuya Yazawa making way for Nao's return.
That's just one of three changes I'd make, with Yohei Otake returning in place of Naotake Hanyu, and Shuichi Gonda reclaiming his place in goal ahead of Hitoshi Shiota, who surprisingly got another start in Okayama, when Gonda was named on the bench.
All of that would mean Nao on the right directly taking Yazawa's place, Sotan Tanabe moving into Roswell's hole (that doesn't sound right), and Otake taking over on the left.
Why three changes? Yes, yes, I know Mr. Okuma usually never changes a winning side, but since you asked, I'll give you three reasons for three changes.
- This is our third game in a week, Hanyu is a fossil (joke), fresh legs are needed;
- Otake and Ishikawa are both natural wingers and their width will help to counter the blueprint; and
- Gonda is a better keeper than Shiota.
We are seven games unbeaten and riding a four game winning streak, but regardless of our form, this promises to be more difficult than we could have imagined when the fixture list was released. Indeed, in Nine Months of...., posted back in early February after the fixtures came out, I wondered "how many (games) will the Tots have won to this point? Anyone think more than one?" but they've far exceeded expectations and sit 13th in the table, having already won four times, including a 4-0 thumping of Shonan two weekends ago.
On Wednesday they were held to a somewhat disappointing home draw by cellar dwellers FC Gifu, and their XI on that night was: (4-3-3, or 4-3-2-1) Kobari; Okuyama, Kita, Togawa, Kato; Koide, Hattori, Tsurumi; Sanenobu, Mio; Umeda.
There are a couple of really odd heads on their player's profile page, but I don't want to slate anyone too much in case they bob up and score against us! Toshihiro Hattori, of course, is the most famous name on there, but they also have 38 year old ex-Red Cubic Zirconia Masayuki Okano in the squad, and the only (I believe) foreign player from the Ivory Coast in the J.League, Hamed, not to mention a Brazilian, who was believed extinct (his name is Dodo...I'm sorry, its Friday).
Tottori have done extremely well up to now, but as much as I want us to freshen things up for our third game in a week, they don't have the quality in their squad to do the same. I'm hoping that we get off to a good start and then put them away when they (hopefully) tire in the second half.
A brace for The Salad! Five on the spin! Yes, a .... Home Win.