Omiya Ardija coach Toshiya Miura will go in to tomorrow's J1 match at Jubilo Iwata knowing that it could scarcely be a harder fixture for his underperforming team. While the Squirrels are without a win in seven following the disappointment of Friday's draw at Kyoto Purple Sanga, Jubilo in contrast have hit vein of goalscoring form that has seen them notch up no fewer than seventeen scores in the last five games, moving to sixth position in the table.
More to the point, Jubilo appear to have goals coming from every part of their team, as illustrated by the fact that six different players got their names on the scoresheet in the 7-0 thrashing of Albirex Niigata a month ago. Miura has meanwhile been unable or unwilling to deal with the lack of attacking options that have blighted this season's performances as far as Orange supporters are concerned.
Kota Yoshihara is completely lacking in confidence, Hiroshi Morita is simply not up to the task of regular goalscoring in J1, Alison would appear to have speed but no skill - although to be fair has scarcely been given an opportunity since joining the club - Naoto Sakurai has reasonable ability and pace but scarcely leads the line and Manabu Wakabayashi has been all but entirely discarded.
But the blame for the team's lack of goals this year should not fall entirely at the feet of the strikers themselves, in that the whole of the tactical approach has frequently left the forwards isolated and without support. It's to be hoped that the return of Chikara Fujimoto will go some way to addressing this issue - for if there is hope any hope at all for Ardija in tomorrow's encounter, it must lie in their opponent's defensive record, as Gamba Osaka, Kawasaki Frontale and Oita Trinita have all met with some success in front of goal in recent weeks.
Indications are that Miura will stick with the same Daigo Kobayashi / Kota Yoshihara front pairing that showed some signs of blossoming at Kyoto, most notably in terms of their link-up play with Fujimoto. Naoto Sakurai appears to have been ruled out through injury, while Jun Marques Davidson is the obvious candidate to come in for the suspended Yosuke Kataoka in the centre of midfield. Other than that, Squirrels fans can do little but cross their fingers and hope that Ryoichi Maeda and company have an off-day to end all off-days.