J.League Preview: Omiya Ardija keen to extend streak
By Football News
Omiya Ardija - the last unbeaten side left in the J.League - are away at Kashiwa Reysol on Friday, kicking off week eight in Japan.
Five wins and two draws have seen Zdenko Verdenik's men maintain the only unblemished record in the Japanese top flight, after league leaders Yokohama F Marinos were beaten in their last outing by Albirex Niigata and the previously-unbeaten Urawa Reds lost to Omiya.
They have had an even spread of goalscorers - with Slovenian import Zlatan Ljubijankic (three) their leading scorer in his second season with the club.
He will be up against one of the equal-leaders in the Golden Boot standings on Friday, Kashiwa's Masato Kudo (six), who is level with Yokohama's Marquinhos and Sagan Tosu's Yohei Toyoda.
Nagoya Grampus' hosting of champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima is the pick of the Saturday kick-offs.
Hiroshima are flying high in fourth spot in the table as they make an early push for AFC Champions League action, and have had three clean-sheet victories in their past four.
Their sixth-placed hosts are led by Australian striker Josh Kennedy, who scored in his first start this season - albeit in a 3-1 loss to Tokyo last weekend.
Nagoya can climb above Hiroshima with a victory, with just two points separating the clubs.
They will hope history does not repeat, though, as they have dropped points in the 90th minute in their past two clashes with Hiroshima due to goals from Ryota Moriwaki.
Thankfully for Nagoya, Moriwaki now plies his trade with Urawa.
Elsewhere, leaders Yokohama are hosting mid-table Ventforet Kofu - with the latter aiming to extend a run of four matches unbeaten.
Urawa are hoping to bounce back from their first defeat when they welcome Shimizu S-Pulse, who are level on nine points with Kofu.
Kashima Antlers are sitting pretty in fifth and haven't been beaten in three, ahead of their visit to Albirex Niigata - who are high on confidence after silencing Yokohama.
Cerezo Osaka have gone off the rails after winning their first three matches this season, only gaining two points from their next four, and will hope to end a poor spell when they tackle winlees Oita Trinita at home.
Jubilo Iwata are also looking for their first triumph, as they prepare to tackle Shonan Bellmare in an all drop-zone affair.
Tokyo snapped a four-match losing streak last time out with a come-from-behind win over Nagoya, and they host Kawasaki Frontale - who brought up their first win this season in their most recent fixture.
In the lone Sunday fixture, 2012 runners-up Vegalta Sendai will host Sagan Tosu.