With question marks over the possible appearance of new striker Enilton, Robert Verbeek would seem to be wavering in his team selection ahead of this Saturday's lunchtime kick-off J1 game away at Oita Trinita. If the coach elects to stick with his preferred starting line-up to date, it would nevertheless mean a third opportunity for the Daigo Kobayashi / Enilton partnership to bear fruit and thereby provide an all-round confidence boost for the goalshy early season strugglers.
While Enilton in particular will presumably be happy to get his name on the scoresheet by any means possible - although Kota Yoshihara seems to be in contention for a first-team slot - a priority for Verbeek must be to capitalise on one particularly successful aspect of reign of his predecessor Toshiya Miura: the large number of goals gleaned from set-pieces. Indeed, the stats indicate that in 2006, Omiya were about the single most successful J1 side when it came to scoring from free-kicks and corners.
Reserve strike partnership Kota Yoshihara and Manabu Wakabayashi
It goes without saying that this is an aspect of the team's play that must be exploited as much as possible, in particular at a time when Ardija's general attacking movement and interpassing is so sluggish and incoherent. This being the case, there is additional pressure on set-piece experts Daigo, Hayato Hashimoto and Chikara Fujimoto to make count the opportunities that do come their way against the likes of Takashi Miki at the heart of the Oita back four.
Miki and his team-mates began their season with a draw at home to Albirex Niigata, defender Yuki Fukaya nodding in a late equaliser after star striker Daiki Takamatsu's own header came off the bar following a corner. Last week, however, coach Pericles Chamusca's team conceded eight minutes from time to lose 2-1 at Jubilo Iwata, when it had appeared that another header - this time from Daisuke Takahashi - would be enough to give them a point.
Oita Trinita skipper Takashi Miki
The Takahashi / Shota Matsuhashi partnership, which contributed 22 goals to the cause last season, has emerged as Oita's main weapon, although it could be that currently injured newcomer Serginho will recover in time to play against the Squirrels, probably in place of Matsuhashi. In many ways, however, it is Chamusca himself who stands out, for having come to Japan midway through the 2005 campaign and single-handedly saved the club from relegation, the 41-year-old Brazilian has over the last eighteen months provided an object lesson to smaller J1 teams such as Omiya in extracting the maximum on-the-pitch returns from a fairly limited squad.
But despite a generous contribution of two own goals from the Squirrels, Trinita managed only a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 defeat in their 2006 league fixtures with Omiya. What Robert Verbeek wouldn't give for either of those two scorelines on Saturday.