The big talking point this week is whether Kenta Mukuhara's superb display at left back against Kyoto, highlighted of course by his first goal for the club, was enough to keep Hokuto Nakamura out of the XI for this game and for the forseeable future.
Here at On the Gas we believe Mukuhara should stay in the side, not just for his goal but for the fact he's a natural defender and has come through our ranks as such (as an aside, one of the best moments of the 6-1 was Muk's goal celebration, nothing elaborate but he was just overjoyed, and you could see how happy fellow youngsters Tanabe and Takahashi were for him too), whereas Hokuto is a born-and-bred midfielder who's adapted to fullback as there was no room for him further up the pitch.
But knowing Mr. Okuma as we all do our fear is that Hokuto will come straight back in, as he did after missing the loss to Kitakyushu through injury back at the end of July. Now I use the word 'fear' there and its probably a bit over the top as Hokuto has never let us down at fullback, but how could the manager possibly drop Mukuhara after last Saturday?!
Elsewhere we'll be unchanged, and that makes total sense after a 6-1 win!
We'll probably be unchanged, in fact, until our Matchday 27 home game against Kitakyushu a week on Wednesday, when Big Bear may have to rotate a few players out as that midweek clash at Aji Sta will be the second of three games in a week.
If it were up to me Jade North would stay in the 18 and Tatsuya Suzuki would drop out with Hokuto returning to the squad, but as it appears Tatsuya is in possession of some uncompromising photos of the manager (how else can you explain him still getting time on the pitch?!), unfortunately North may miss out and we'll be without central defensive cover on the bench, as I suppose Big Bear feels he has Tokunaga and Takahashi able to cover in an emergency.
Still no sign of Roberto Cesar, and while Daiki Takamatsu is back at training and played a half in last Sundays 3-0 practice match loss to Tsukuba University, you'd think he's still a couple of weeks away from being considered for a spot on the bench.
|Looks about 12 years old, but he's lethal...|
Saito has been absolutely brilliant for them this year since coming on loan from J1 Yokohama and has bagged 11 goals, just one behind league leaders Masaki Fukai of Chiba and Yohei Toyoda of Tosu in the race for the golden boot. Having also contributed six assists (according to ElGolazo), he's been involved in 17 of Ehime's 29 league goals, and unfortunately for us he's bang on form, scoring four in the last four, including both their goals in the draw against Kitakyushu in Matchday 21.
|This 'mascot' didn't make any|
sense to me back in May...
and I still don't get it...