Eight wins and two draws is Ardija’s current record for this season, six points clear of second place Yokohama F Marinos.

Ardija don’t look like letting up at the moment as they go in search of the J1 title. A 2-1 win, over current Champions Sanfreece Hiroshima, their latest conquest. Next up they face an away trip to tenth place Vegalta Sendai, who recently defeated Nagoya Grampus to begin their climb up the J1 table. Marinos will have been disappointed with their recent form failing to win in four games now; it seems that the early promise was nothing more than just that, promise that looks unlikely to be fulfilled. They are away to the side beaten by Vegalta last week, Nagoya.

On the back of the victory over Marinos, Kashiwa Reysol travel to improving Jubilo Iwata, who were unlucky not to win last weekend. A 93rd minute winner from loan Southampton star Tadanari Lee for FC Tokyo prevented Jubilo from claiming a second win of the season. They are now four points away from safety but recent performances say they have every chance of staying up. As for Tokyo, they face another relegation threatened side in Shonan Bellmare. Bellmare have now not won in three and a win looks unlikely when they face Tokyo, who is now fifth in the J1 table.

Defending Champions Sanfreece will be looking to bounce back from defeat by Ardija, with victory winless Oita Trinita. The future looks bleak for this Trinita side, unless something seriously changes, expect them to be a J2 side next season. After beating Trinita 4-2 on Monday, Sagan Tosu will look forward to the game with Albirex Niigata, who has been indifferent form after ten games of the season. Gaining a credible draw with inform Ventforet Kofu, a win in the game with Sagan could see Albirex jump up about six places, results dependant. Kofu goes on to face Shimizu S-Pulse who have now lost two in a row. S-Pa thought their bad form was behind them, but it has reared its ugly head again, and most will expect to see a Kofu win this coming weekend. Kawasaki Frontale who have managed to gain two wins in their last two face Cerezo Osaka. Frontale beat S-Pa last time out, whilst Cerezo drew two a piece with Urawa Reds.

Which leads us to this week’s one to watch.

Title hopefuls Urawa Reds and Kashima Antlers do battle, in what one would expect to be the game of the weekend. Both will be trying to best each other as they attempt to close the gap on current runaway leaders Omiya Ardija. After a disappointing exit from the AFC Champions League, Urawa now have something to prove, whilst Antlers would love a return to the side that won three J1’s in a row between 2007 and 2009.

The season is no longer in its infancy and we’re now starting to see where the key battles lie. The Squirrels are proving a hard nut to crack (pardon my pun) and currently look unstoppable. Whilst bottom club Oita Trinita look like they have little hope of survival, already being seven points of the pace. Sanfreece already look out of the title race and will be disappointed not to have been able to defend their title better, whilst Reysol look destined for a mid-table finish, reason being they still have the AFC Champions League to worry about, as Japan’s sole representative.

 

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