Seven straight league wins have seen FC Tokyo move seven points clear at the top of J2, but we don't have long to bask in the glow of Naohiro Ishikawa's sublime stoppage time winner on Wednesday, as this weekend we face Tosu, the 2nd-placed team who are on an even hotter run than us.
They're unbeaten in their last 11 (nine wins and two draws), and have lost only once since early July, so this is likely to be the toughest test we'll face in the eight remaining games. Its a battle between the second and third highest scoring teams in the league, but a huge reason why we're sitting in the top two spots is because of the two stingiest defences in J2 - we've allowed just 15 goals in 30 games, while they've let in 23.
Players on 3 Yellow Cards: Masato Morishige, Hideto Takahashi, Yasuyuki Konno, Roberto Cesar, Yohei Kajiyama
In such a big game, its hard to imagine the manager making any changes to the XI, so if he's even considering resting players during this five-games-in-two-weeks stretch that will surely happen next Wednesday (the fourth in five) when we host Oita at Kokuritsu, as the last of them is the derby.
What else is there to say? We know the XI, we know how we'll try and play, but coming up against such a stern defence might see us relying on getting something from a set piece, or if not, another 95th minute Ishikawa thunderbolt!
2nd, W:18 D:8 L:6 GF:52 GA:23 (+29)
There are a lot of similarities between our season and theirs - remember, we were 8th after Matchday 10, having scored just ten goals - its just taken them longer to get going. They were 9th in mid-July having scored just 19 goals in the season's first 16 games, but a superb run since then has seen them rocket all the way up to second, where they now enjoy a three point cushion over Sapporo.
|We must stop this....|
this scoring machine!!!
Their XI from their 3-0 win at Toyama on Wednesday was: (4-4-2) Akahoshi; Niwa, Kitani, Yeo Sung Hye, Isozaki; Fujita, Okamoto, Hayasaka, Ikeda; Kim Byung Suk, Toyoda.
If we can keep Toyoda in check we'll still have to be wary of Ryota Hayasaka (9 goals, including a brace in their 3-0 win on Wednesday) and Kei Ikeda (5 goals), but unfortunately (or fortunately for us) their Korean winger Kim Min Woo is out injured.
Four of their six losses have come at home which gives us cause for optimism, but in a clash between free-scoring attacks and miserly defences its usually the latter who comes out on top. I'm hoping for an open game where both teams can express themselves, and a win here would get our Magic Number into single digits, but this is extremely tough to call and the first goal (if it comes) will be vital.
Hoping for a win, of course, but a draw would do us no harm. Therefore...Draw.