J.League Preview: Omiya keen to extend Marinos' misery
Yokohama F. Marinos' poor start to the second half of the J.League season looks set to continue when they host leaders Omiya Ardija.
Marinos drew their first match after the J.League winter break a week ago before losing 2-1 to Cerezo Osaka on Wednesday and with Omiya having only lost one game this season, Yokohama will face a tough task to bounce back on Saturday.
Yokohama have dropped to fourth since the J.League restarted and could fall to sixth position over the weekend with a loss to Omiya if Kashima Antlers get at least a draw away to Kashiwa Reysol and Cerezo overcome Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Omiya head to Yokohama on the back of a 2-1 win over Nagoya Grampus Eight mid-week, which took them to 36 points, five clear of second-placed Urawa Reds at the top of the J.League, while Sanfrecce are third on 30.
Marinos are fourth on 28 points, while Kashima are fifth on goal difference, ahead of Cerezo (27 points), who sit sixth.
Milivoje Novakovic and Yu Hasegawa scored the goals for Omiya in their win over Nagoya and Yokohama head coach Yasuhiro Higuchi will be warning his defenders about the former, who sits eighth in the J.League goal-scorers standings.
Novakovic has scored eight goals this season and the Slovenian striker is just four adrift of the J.League's leading goal-scorer Hisato Sato of Sanfrecce.
If Marinos manage to turn their form around and upset Omiya, Urawa could move within two points of top spot in the J.League if they knock off Kawasaki Frontale, while Vegalta Sendai will host Jubilo Iwata and FC Tokyo travel to Albirex Niigata.
In other J.League games, Shimizu S-Pulse will host Oita Trinita and Ventforet Kofu will clash with Shonan Bellmare.