It's probably a good thing for the nerves of Squirrels supporters that this has been a week full of transfer speculation. Since the goalless draw at Vissel Kobe at the weekend, all the talk has been of Masashi Oguro and the possibility of what would be a sensational transfer from Torino of a top-class Japanese striker. And on top of that, Takuya Yamada and Takashi Hirano - former internationals both - are to undergo trials at the club with a view to bolstering an injury-hit squad.
This speculation has served as a useful distraction for nervy fans, given that Saturday's clash with Yokohama FC can be regarded as arguably the most important single game since Omiya Ardija were promoted to J1. Certainly, only the October 2005 2-1 win at relegation rivals Kashiwa Reysol, which brought to an end a run of seven consecutive defeats and just in time turned the tide in the battle against a quick return to J2, would seem to come close in terms of potential significance.
But the match against Reysol came close to the end of the year, whereas Saturday's encounter is already being spoken of as a true six-pointer - with the losers finding it harder and harder to fight against relegation. For if any other club has experienced as poor a start to 2007 as Omiya, it is Yokohama FC. Promoted at the end of last year to the amazement of most onlookers, the Sky Blues' superb defensive record has not survived the challenge of football at the higher level and indeed, only Oita Trinita have conceded more than Takuya Takagi's men.
And highlights have been few and far between: Tatsuhiko Kubo's wonder goal at Urawa Reds on the opening day of the season and the catharsis of beating Yokohama F Marinos in the derby match a week later are the obvious points. But more ominously for Ardija supporters, last week provided Yokohama with their second win of 2007. Kazu Miura's spectacular volley was the clincher that took his team past a Sanfrecce Hiroshima side that had ten days previously had staged a last-minute smash and grab raid on Omiya, robbing Robert Verbeek and his players of a deserved draw.
And while lately in Saitama transfer talk has been just that - talk - Yokohama have acted to improve their own poor strike rate, bringing in 25-year-old forward Kazuki Hiramoto, who last year scored fifteen goals in J2 for an underachieving Tokyo Verdy 1969. Omiya, of course, will somehow have to find the goal or goals to win the game from amongst their existing squad and surely all efforts will have been made this week to get Daigo Kobayashi fit and able to participate.
For Enilton is suspended and Hayato Hashimoto will presumably still be unavailable due to the injury suffered during the warm-up prior to the Urawa Reds game. All of which leaves coach Verbeek desperately short of firepower in a match that could potentially decide his fate. Kota Yoshihara must find his shooting boots from somewhere, but it could be also that Salles may have to make a return to the starting line-up after being dropped to the bench.
The complications and the pressure for Verbeek are more intense than ever. But for the Squirrel Nation, the issue is simple. Ardija must score. And Ardija must win this match.