Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sendai Preview

Some statistics ahead of Sunday's match against Vegalta Sendai. Ardija are just over half way through their sixth J1 season, but how do results achieved this year compare with those in the first nineteen fixtures of previous campaigns? Hmm, well - "not that well," is the short answer. On paper, 2010 is actually the second-worst year for the Squirrels since promotion, with just five wins, a meagre seventeen goals scored and 21 points on the board. Only the Robert Verbeek era of 2007 is poorer and all the talk three years ago was of how Omiya were going to have to become the first club ever to be bottom of the standings at season mid-point and still avoid relegation.

Amazingly, they managed it. Progress since then has been limited, but as mentioned on this website after the draw with Jubilo Iwata, there are reasons to believe that these are pretty good times - arguably, as good as it has ever been - for members of the Squirrel Nation. The match against Sendai marks the end of a run of fixtures from which Ardija really had to pick up points if they were going to move away from the bottom three, and that they have done: Jun Suzuki has coaxed an impressive eleven points from the last five games, a haul that could have been even better were it not for the conceding of a last-gasp equaliser by Yokohama F Marinos.

The early autumn is, however, a lot tougher. Between now and the trip to Shonan Bellmare at the end of October, Omiya play a string of top opponents including Shimizu S-Pulse, Kashima Antlers, Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale. We needed points from Shonan at home and we need to beat Sendai tomorrow. Vegalta's league form may have gone into freefall since their bright start to the season - they haven't won a J1 match since a 2-1 triumph over Kashima at the beginning of April - but Ardija were out-hustled when the two teams met in March and Sendai dished out a real thumping in the Nabisco Cup a couple of months ago.

The Squirrels have to get revenge for those defeats. As was demonstrated in the league match, a side with the physical approach of Vegalta will give away free kicks around the penalty area and Omiya need to take advantage in the same decisive manner as Mato Neretljak did that day. New arrival Lee Chun Soo has taken a couple of set plays so far, but hasn't come close to hitting the target and this has to improve. The combative Lee Ho would be a useful addition to the heart of the Ardija team given that the Squirrels need to compete physically if Chun Soo and the other forwards are to become involved. It's going to be a tough one.

2005 after nineteen games

W7 D4 L8 F23 A26 GD-3 Pts25

2006

W9 D2 L8 F25 A27 GD-2 Pts29

2007

W3 D8 L8 F12 A21 GD-9 Pts17

2008

W6 D5 L8 F22 A25 GD-3 Pts23

2009

W6 D6 L7 F24 A29 GD-5 Pts24

2010

W5 D6 L8 F17 A20 GD-3 Pts21

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