While my Sunday afternoon was spent watching Arsenal's abject performance in their opening Premier League game against Liverpool, on more than one occasion my thoughts turned to one simple fact - "You know, I could be watching Giant Killing right now"... Perhaps those thoughts were well-founded too, as Osaka Gunners certainly look more dangerous than my own beloved Gunners...
Anyhow, this episode finally sees the kick-off of ETU's big match, and unsurprisingly Tatsumi's men find themselves on the defensive straight away given their opponents attacking outlook. As the game starts we also see that Tatsumi has made some interesting decisions when it comes to his team's man marking instructions, not least in pairing the physical but relatively diminutive Kuroda against the far taller and heftier Hauer. Elsewhere, Kiyokawa's matching against Osaka's Katayama makes sense given their matching turns of speed.
For most of this episode, these decisions seem to be working out perfectly - Although Kuroda can't match Hauer for height, his in-your-face approach clearly unsettles his opponent and while this target man of the side is decent in the air, he's easily outsmarted by Kuroda with the ball at his feet, limiting his possibilities as long as the centre back plays it right. This is, however, a dangerous game to play, as it only takes one good delivery to destroy a lot of that hard work... and what do you know, as this episode ends a combination of Katayama's intelligent play outsmarting Kiyokawa's reliance on speed, the instinctively skilful Kubota's inherent abilities and Hauer's height and strength link up to leave the ball in the net and ETU reeling.
Goal aside, it could be bad news all around for East Tokyo United - Although Tsubaki's pace and tenacity is the same as always, Gino's passing seems to be going astray, and without his abilities as playmaker no amount of hard work and organisation is going to turn this around, making this a massive test of the abilities of both Tatsumi and his squad.
Although moving into "big match mode" means that the pace of the series slows down markedly (this episode effectively occurred in real-time, taking us just nineteen minutes into the game), Giant Killing manages to be as fascinating as ever, pitting personalities against one another on the one hand and sound footballing tactical dilemmas on the other to make for another episode which as entertaining as it is thought-provoking for the wannabe football manager in me. It certainly makes a change for me to be cheering on the opponents of the Gunners for once, and one of the beauties of this particular show is that, just like real football, it's impossible to predict how the end result is going to turn out and why.