Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Kawasaki Preview

It's a run of five games in only sixteen days for the Squirrels now and after Saturday's draw with Urawa Reds the second of those matches comes on Wednesday at home to Kawasaki Frontale. As such the dust has had to settle quickly following that tempestuous Saitama derby, with the talk divided between Genki Haraguchi's spectacular equaliser for Urawa and the disastrous intervention by Daigo Watanabe which prevented a late Omiya winner. GGOA's final word* on the Watanabe story is that while clearly it was a high-pressure situation, the fact is that his poor awareness cost Ardija two points which would have seen the Squirrels in a giddy fifth place in the league. I know - in June! Normally we never get that high after the second week in March.

As it happens, one of the teams that we would have overtaken are Kawasaki, who at the weekend also drew 2-2 at home to lowly opponents in Ventforet Kofu. Frontale took the lead for the first time via a rather lucky deflection from young forward Yu Kobayashi, who has burst onto the Frontale scene in recent weeks with four goals in six matches. The second goal came from a header by Koji Yamase, left totally unmarked at a set piece, but Kawasaki twice let Kofu back into the match and were unable to steal a winner despite an injury to Ventforet's former Ardija keeper Hiroki Aratani. Overall this seems to be a Frontale team achieving similar results as in previous seasons: scoring a fair few goals, but always likely to concede.

Omiya's own goalscoring record this year is not much to boast about - that's what tends to happen when you make last year's top scorer a permanent substitute - but they did register two good goals against Reds with strong supporting performances from Daisuke Watabe and Kota Ueda. They in particular are players that Ardija need to take up positions to create opportunities because Chikara Fujimoto and Lee Chun Soo now look to be growing less effective by the match. The focus has shifted away from Lee to Rafael as the Squirrels' main goal threat, but against Frontale Ueda and co. have to win the midfield battle to stand a chance of winning the war.

*maybe

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