The next game for Omiya Ardija is an away fixture at Sagan Tosu on Saturday 12th May 2012 which will hopefully kickoff on time at 2pm. Perhaps at the beginning of the season we might have expected that our games against Tosu would be a chance for a rare 6 pointer, and that the Kyushu outfit would be finding their very first season in the J1 league difficult.
That has so far been very far from the truth and in fact the team from Tosu in Saga-ken in North West Kyushu find themselves sitting fairly prettily in 5th position with 4 wins and 2 draws out of their fist ten games. Such a start to their J1 presence is one they can be rightly proud of, and they have made people sit up and take notice of them. This has been good to see, as far too often teams who come up from J2 go straight back down again and often without so much as a whimper. FC Tokyo will of course be another exception, but then no one ever expected them to be in J2. Just as we have seen this season in the Premier League with Norwich and Swansea, promotion to, and survival in the highest level, does not have to mean a defensive or negative style of football in a desperate bid to stay in the higher flight, and Tosu have indeed impressed with the style of their performances. I'm sure if they continue their early good form, they will win plaudits far and wide this season.
So therefore this is not going to be an easy game for Jun Suzuki's men, although the players will be heartened by their close win over Gamba Osaka last Sunday, which was a third home win in a row. After their last road trip to Kobe, which went downhill very early on in the game, the Squirrels will be looking to put in a far stronger away performance and collect at least a point from Sagan Tosu. I would hope to see Hasegawa play up front with either Cho pushed up alongside him looking for knockdowns in the penalty box, or if fit, Rafael. I feel certain Rafael could score more goals if only he had some kind of partner to work with. Last season Suzuki often kept Naoki Ishihara on the bench when he could have provided such support for Rafael and now it seems Hasegawa is being given the same treatment. Hasegawa is of course very different to Ishihara, but still could offer support to Rafael through his physical presence and height. I'd rather have Ishihara available, but unfortunately he is away making Sanfrecce Hiroshima fans very happy and indeed scored twice in their last game, a victory away at defending champs, Kashiwa. Ardija fans must be asking why did we sell him.
My prediction therefore is a draw. However I am far from confident. I'm looking for our lads to put in a real shift to make the fans who travel and the rest of us back in Saitama City proud of their efforts. Let's go Omiya Let's Go!