J.League Preview: Leaders Yokohama F. Marinos out to end mini slump
J.League leaders Yokohama F. Marinos host fifth-placed Cerezo Osaka on Saturday bidding to get their title push back on track.
Yasuhiro Higuchi's side have lost two of their last three league games as their lead at the top has been cut to just a point, but they will be confident as they take on an Osaka side that have drawn three league games in a row.
Hot on Yokohama's heels in second, Urawa Red Diamonds travel to a Tokyo side who gained a 2-2 draw at Saitama Stadium the last time these two teams met. Urawa will be wary of the threat that could be posed by Tokyo striker Kazuma Watanabe, who has notched eight goals in his last nine games.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima were the last to suffer at Watanabe's hands as they went down 2-1 to Tokyo in their last league fixture. Next up for Hajime Moriyasu's third-placed side is a visit to Kawasaki Frontale, who have their own danger man in the J.League's 18-goal leading scorer Yoshito Okubo.
Fourth-bottom Ventforet Kofu, the league's lowest scoring side, face a tough test against fourth-placed Kashima Antlers.
The J.League's bottom-club Oita Trinita are on an awful run of form of 12 games without a win. They visit Vegalta Sendai, who themselves have not won in four league games.
Omiya Ardija have also been on their own terrible run of form before their 1-0 win over Yokohama brought to an end a run of eight straight league defeats for Tsutomu Ogura's side. They travel to mid-table Albirex Niigata on Saturday looking to build on that result.
Elsewhere, second-bottom Jubilo Iwata, fresh from an 8-1 victory over Saurcos Fukui in the Emperor Cup last weekend, visit Kashiwa Reysol on Friday, while Sagan Tosu host Shonan Bellmare and Nagoya Grampus travel to Shimizu S-Pulse.