What started as a drunken idea in a bar has morphed into this - a fantasy football podcast from me and my mates. The goal: make an interesting and entertaining fantasy podcast that might help you do alright, but hopefully not as well as me. We've heard what's out there, and we reckon we might be able to do just as well as those other duffers, maybe even better.

There's also some FC Tokyo stuff on here, but I now blog on all things Gasmen at On the Gas (click on link below).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Five Games For Survival: FC Tokyo's Run-In

It's been a loooong and arduous season for FC Tokyo, and without doubt a massive disappointment as we've slid down the table from 5th last season to 15th, but with five games left, at least we have our fate in our own hands. We sit one spot outside the relegation zone, level on points with Kobe, but with a vastly superior goal difference.

Our ten game winless run in the league, which started in late July and finally ended with our 3-0 win against Shonan the first weekend of October, saw the spectre of relegation hover over the club for the first time in several seasons - in fact we had slipped into the relegation zone before the Shonan game - and since that afternoon at Kokuritsu we've pocketed just five of the 12 points on offer, one fewer than Kobe, who have suddenly caught fire, winning their last two games to pull level. There have been positive signs for The Gasmen though, the away win at Shimizu and the home draw with Gamba (where we dominated the first half) in our last two games have given us reason to be cautiously optimistic.

So here's a look at our run-in, and the next three games promise to be massive tests against top-six teams with plenty to play for. We finish with two very winnable games, but Kobe definitely have the better set of fixtures, so hopefully we'll still be alive when Yamagata visit Aji Sta in the second-to-last game. Omiya, Sendai and Yamagata are all potentially vulnerable to slipping back into the dogfight, but right now it looks a straight battle between us and Kobe, so I'm only listing both our games each Matchweek.

WEEK 30: Yokohama (6th) v FC TOKYO, 11/14, 2pm, Nissan Stadium
Kobe: away at Niigata (9th)
First meeting this season: FC Tokyo 1-0 Yokohama (Hirayama)
    Do you remember? I barely do. But yeah, it's coming back to me now...first game of the season...chilly afternoon...0-0 game heading into second half stoppage time...Ishikawa breaks down the right, leaps over a challenge and slides the ball across for Hirayama who knocks it in first-time...I thought we were going to win the league that day! Well, no I didn't, but I thought we'd do alright, and no-one who was at Aji Sta that day could've foreseen where we'd be now.
    Yokohama have done alright to be fair to them, they're only two points out of third and an Asian Champions League spot, and have a good core of young players coming through to support their big guns Nakazawa, Yamase and Nakamura.
    We won at Nissan Stadium last season, but if you offered me a point from this game right now I'd bite your hand off, even though they'll be weakened by the abscences of regular centre-halves Nakazawa and Kurihara. We have Morishige suspended, which means that Okuma doesn't have to make a tough decision with Kajiyama coming back from suspension. The past three games we've seen different combinations in central midfield: Casual and Tokunaga v.Niigata (Yonemoto wasn't ready), Casual and Yonemoto v.Shimizu (Tokunaga was suspended) and Yonemoto and Tokunaga v.G.Osaka (Casual was suspended), and, although the first half against Gamba was impressive, the game we clearly played the best in was against Shimizu, so with Kim away, Tokunaga can slot into Morishige's spot with Casual returning to partner Yone .

 WEEK 31FC TOKYO v Kawasaki (4th), 11/20, 2pm, Ajinomoto Stadium
Kobe: home v Kashima (2nd)
First meeting this season: Kawasaki 2-1 FC Tokyo (Konno)
    The Tamagawa Classico, Get the River Under Control, all that bollocks. Kawasaki are a point behind Gamba, who occupy that third ACL spot, and even after losing Chong Tese they've carried on banging in the goals: in fact they're the second highest scorers in the league. That's all well and good, but they can be got at defensively as well, they've let in five more goals than we have this season, and that doesn't count the "second" goal we scored against them that was wrongly chalked off for offside back in April.
    Juninho and Vitor Junior are the ones we'll have to keep quiet, but if our frontline can fire we'll be right in it, as the last few meetings have been close (unless you count the Nabisco Cup Final last November when we DESTROYED them!!!).

WEEK 32: Nagoya (1st) v FC TOKYO, 11/23, 2pm, Toyota Stadium
Kobe: away at Omiya (14th)
First meeting this season: FC Tokyo 0-1 Nagoya
    The champions-elect, Nagoya sit eight points clear before Week 30 gets underway, and it would take a monumental implosion for them to cock it up from here. The best thing we can hope for is that Kashima drop points in Week 30 away at Kawasaki (but not, of course, at home to Kobe in Week 31!), and Nagoya win both their games - at home to Omiya and away at Shonan - which would see them crowned as champions with three games to spare. That would theoretically make things easier for us although the other side of that argument is that they'll be in party mode in front of their fans and will want to put on a show....
    The first meeting was an absolute heartbreaker for The Gasmen, as we'd played extremely well throughout, outshot them 20 to 10, Nagoya never got going, but they nicked a winner in the 94th minute. Their key players going forward, Jesus Kennedy, Kanazaki and Magnum P.I., all had quiet afternoons that August afternoon, but we'll do well to keep them under wraps again.

WEEK 33: FC TOKYO v Yamagata (12th), 11/27, 5.30pm, Ajinomoto Stadium
Kobe: home v Shimizu (7th)
First meeting this season: FC Tokyo 3-0 Yamagata (Shigematsu, Hanyu, Konno)
    You've got to give Yamagata credit, nobody thought they had a chance in hell of surviving in J1 when they came up last season, but survive they did, and they very likely will again this season, even though everytime you look they've just got battered again... We did a number on them up there in the second-last league game before the World Cup break, when we were both midtable, but even though they are far-and-away the league's lowest scorers, and have a goal difference even worse than Kobe's, they've eked out 10 wins and are six points clear of the relegation zone.
    This is an absolute must-win for Tokyo, and hopefully we can finish the season at home with the same sort of positive result as we started with.

WEEK 34: Kyoto (17th) v FC TOKYO, 12/4, 3.30pm, Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium
Kobe: away at Urawa (10th)
First meeting this season: FC Tokyo 1-1 Kyoto (Shigematsu)
    One thing that's nailed-on is that Kyoto WILL already be relegated by the time this game comes around, in fact they'll probably be down after their game at Urawa that kicks-off the same time as we play Yokohama. They beat us in the away fixture last season, but that game was played in Kagoshima, and with the likelihood we'll still need something from this game to ensure survival, you'd have to fancy us to win this. We fear our old "friend" Diego, and obviously they won't have any fear and will want to exit J1 on a high, but this has to be a Tokyo win.

There you go then. A win in any of the next three would be priceless, and even three draws would keep us alive going into the last two, which are very winnable. There should be plenty of Red and Blue support at Nissan Stadium, and hopefully the boys can do the business and keep our recent unbeaten run going.

Come on The Gasmen!

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