Saturday, 23 July 2011

Sendai Preview

Jun Suzuki managed to coax a strong performance but a slightly disappointing result from his beleaguered Squirrels squad last weekend, a curious state of affairs bearing in mind Ardija's recent form and the fact that they were playing against title challengers Yokohama F Marinos. The Sailors previously had picked up five straight wins and Omiya may have gone into the game seemingly with little prospect of victory, but even so it was Suzuki's side that dominated the majority of the play and only poor finishing that prevented an Ardija victory.

A typically sloppy piece of defending from a set play enabled teenage starlet Yuji Ono to head Marinos in front a few minutes before half time but all told it was a surprisingly toothless display from a team heading for the top of the J-League. After the break Omiya took control and it was only keeper Hiroki Iikura who kept Ardija out, until a combination of Chikara Fujimoto and Kota Ueda unpicked the defensive lock for Rafael to equalise from close range. It was a thoroughly deserved point which also served to bring to an end a run of three defeats in a row that had seen Omiya slip towards the relegation zone.

Saturday's opponents Vegalta Sendai are in a slump at present, given that after some sensational early season results they now have not won in five games. Their current position of eighth is the lowest in the standings Vegalta have been all season long, but even so Makoto Teguramori's team are unbeaten at home and this is likely to prove a very tough game for the Squirrels. Suzuki's preferred line-up seems now to include Arata Sugiyama rather than Daisuke Watabe at right back and although Sugiyama is generally feeble as an attacking option, he is at least a defender of experience. Omiya worked hard against Marinos - why is it not possible to say that after every game? - and they'll need to compete in a similarly determined fashion to bring anything back from their trip north.

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