|What the hell is this supposed to be?|
We're seven points clear at the top and going for a club record seven straight league wins, and on a matchday (originally Matchday 6) thats sees the rest of the top five also playing away, we have a great chance to reduce our much talked-about (by me) 'Magic Number' of points needed for promotion against the team in 15th, who we belted 3-0 just over three weeks ago.
Players on 3 Yellow Cards: Masato Morishige, Hideto Takahashi, Yasuyuki Konno, Roberto Cesar, Yohei Kajiyama
There don't appear to be any major talking points when it comes to our XI, as the manager has shown no indication that he'll rotate fresh players in while things are ticking along as well as they are. Perhaps towards the end of this five-in-two-weeks stretch we may see Naotake Hanyu, Sotan Tanabe or Lucas rested for a game, with Naohiro Ishikawa or Roberto Cesar coming in, but this game has come too soon for The Salad to push for a start, as he has only half an hour in his legs after so long out.
At this stage though it appears the only way changes will come is if they are enforced by suspension, and as we have five key players on three yellows that is a real prospect. The worst-case scenario of course is if both the centre halves or centre mids get booked in the same game, which would surely fry the manager's brain as he'd have to make two changes.
Once again we'll look to spread the ball wide and use the fullbacks in our attacking play, and after Yuhei Tokunaga and Kenta Mukuhara were so heavily involved against these at Kokuritsu they're likely to see a lot of the ball again. Hanyu has happy memories of the first encounter of course after his two minute brace sealed the win, while you'd have to like our chances of again getting something from a set piece, as we've scored from corners or free kicks in five of the six games in our winning streak (Genki Nagasato's goal at Tokushima wasn't directly from a corner of course, but Yasuyuki Konno's cushioned pass to him was).
15th, W:8 D:7 L:14 GF:31 GA:41 (-10)
They've had a draw and two losses since their visit to Kokuritsu, meaning its seven without a win as their horrible season continues to go nowhere. They hit a new low on Saturday, though, losing 4-3 away to bottom club FC Gifu. Their XI was: (4-4-2) Seki; Yanagisawa, Park Tae Hong, Nakano, Miyazaki; Fujita, Takachi, Arabori, Nozaki; Namba, Kaio.
We were impressed with their young centre mid Kensuke Sato last month, but he's come off the bench in the past two games, while they also wheeled out Franca and 57 year old Kazuyoshi Miura on Saturday, and probably will again tomorrow night.
They did have periods of good play in our first meeting - most of it going through Sato - but they got next to nothing from Kaio, and their eight-goal top scorer will have to be more involved if they're to cause us any problems tomorrow night. At home you'd like to think they'll be a little more open, which plays into our hands and should lead to an entertaining game.
They have some dangermen we'll need to be wary of - most notably Kaio and Franca - but after banging in 21 goals and allowing only one during our winning run we're in our best form of the season, full of confidence, and it would be a massive shock if we didn't take the three points here. On a personal note, I'm really looking forward to going to a ground without a running track around it, and I hope the atmosphere will be as good as I've heard it can be at Mitsuzawa.
Going for a club record, its gotta be an....Away Win.