After two away trips in a row in various competitions, we return to Banpaku this weekend to face fellow early strugglers Omiya Ardija with the kick-off being 16:00 JST. After a tough first 7 fixtures, this is the one that we can definitely say that we should win and we would be disappointed if we do not win it.
Omiya sit one point and one place above us in the table in 14th place having won 2, drawn 1 and lost 4 of their opening games. The away side for the weekend have taken 4 of their 7 points on the road with a stunning and surprising 4-3 win over Kawasaki Frontale as well as a 2-2 draw against Kashiwa Reysol. They have not won in their last 5 games.
The last time the two sides met came in a lacklustre Emperor’s Cup 3rd round match that ended 0-0 and saw Omiya triumph on penalties. In the league however, Gamba won 3-1 back in August 2012 at Banpaku to raise our hopes of survival with Leandro netting a brace and Kurata adding the 3rd in a deserved win inspired by substitute Akihiro Sato. The other game that season ended in a 1-0 Ardija win on what was Atsushi Kimura’s Gamba debut.
Takashi Usami should be back to full training sometime next week which is excellent news. An injury did come with that however, as Akira Kaji is almost certain to miss out following a foot injury that he picked up in training during the week. With that said, you can expect Oh Jae-Suk and either Kurata or Omori to retain their places whilst the 9 players that were rested following the Osaka should come back into the first team after a superb performance. If Konno does make the game this weekend, then both Omori and Kurata should take their places in the starting line-up but I think the former should be fine. If it was me, I would play Kurata over Omori simply because we probably do not need the hard work and tracking back that Omori gives us if we have Abe on the pitch as well, especially in such a winnable game.
The match will highlight the return of Akihiro Ienaga to Banpaku for the first time since he left the club last summer following the end of his loan from Mallorca. He categorically said in the training match that we won against Ardija during pre-season that Gamba are, as always, not so strong. Time to put your money where your mouth is Akihiro and prove it. Although he was pretty poor during his stint in J2 last season…
I am looking for the guys to push on from the great performance against Cerezo Osaka last weekend and win this game to get us looking up the table instead of down it. Guys like Lins, Sato and Kurata have to start finding the back of the net, then I am sure they can do it on a regular basis once more. We have to take the game to a weak Omiya and make a statement. I have every confidence that we can do that this weekend.