Where better to start than new record holders Omiya Ardija. The 1-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds mean the Squirrels surpass Kashima Antlers record of 17 games unbeaten and to add icing to the cake, move into second place in the J1, just one point behind leaders Yokohama F Marinos.
Omiya face trip away to Kashiwa Reysol in the Friday game. Just like that and Marinos 100% start is gone; a 78th minute winner from Albirex Niigata player Hideya Okamoto, being the un-doing of Shunsuke Nakamura and his boys.
Albirex will be delighted with the result and will go into the game with Antlers high in confidence; Antlers who currently sit in fifth drew 0-0 last weekend. As for league leaders Marinos; they move on to a game with Antlers opponents from last week, Ventforet Kofu, and will be hoping to get right back to winning ways.
Champions Sanfreece Hiroshima will look to build on their 2-0 victory over Jubilo Iwata in what should prove to be a tough encounter with Nagoya Grampus, they themselves looking to bounce back after defeat FC Tokyo. As for Tokyo they will have been relieved to have finally won a game after four defeats in a row and will hope that their bad form in now firmly behind them, with their upcoming game being at Kawasaki Frontale in front of their home crowd.
Frontale gained their first win of the season last weekend beating Vegalta Sendai, as Frontale hope to pull away from the relegation zone.
Cerezo Osaka who in recent weeks have looked more like the side that only just avoided relegation as opposed to the team that won their first three of three, face Oita Trinita who like Jubilo are yet to win a J1 game this season. Not much of a plus for Oita but they did move of the bottom of J1 last weekend, albeit on goals scored.
With this in mind Jubilo will be hoping home advantage against Shonan Bellmare will lead them to victory, however their recent form may suggest otherwise. Bellmare still sit in a relegation place despite a 2-1 victory last weekend, the aforementioned fellow strugglers Oita Trinita. Third place side Urawa Red’s face Shimizu S-Pulse; S-Pa unbeaten in their last three and in the final game of the weekend Vegalta Sendai faces Sagan Tosu.
It will be interesting to see whether Marinos’ reaction to their recent loss and will tell us a lot if they are genuine title contenders. Likewise with Omiya Ardija, will the Squirrels be able to continue their J1 record?
In other Japanese related news:
Japan international Shinji Kagawa celebrated this week after his club Manchester United’s victory over Aston Villa, to clinch the Premier League title with four games remaining. That’s three league titles in three years for the diminutive attacking midfielder.
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