J.League Preview: Kashima out to continue good start
Toninho Cerezo's youthful Kashima outfit are two points clear at the top after winning four of their opening five league games.
A come-from-behind 3-1 victory at Yokohama F Marinos was the latest of those victories, completed by a team which had five players in their early 20s starting.
Yasushi Endo, 25, has scored three times for an Antlers outfit who will be hoping to extend their advantage at the top.
"I suppose other teams will prepare strategies to contain us, but that will help us develop further," midfielder Gaku Shibasaki, 21, said.
But a Gamba Osaka side who have just one win from their first five league games shape as an obstacle Kashima should overcome.
Third-placed champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima face a battle when they visit sixth-placed Nagoya Grampus' Toyota Stadium.
Both teams played out draws mid-week – Sanfrecce in the AFC Champions League and Nagoya in the J-League Cup.
Sanfrecce will be desperate to return to winning ways after the controversial draw against Seoul, which saw the South Koreans awarded two late penalties – converting one.
Cerezo Osaka are capable of pouncing if the Antlers slip-up, with the second-placed side visiting Kashiwa Reysol.
At the other end of the table, newly promoted Tokushima Vortis are still aiming for their first win when they host Kawasaki Frontale.
Having scored just once and conceded 14, Shinji Kobayashi's men look set to find it tough to avoid relegation.
Vegalta Sendai are still searching for their first win in all competitions under Graham Arnold when they visit Urawa Reds.
Shimizu S-Pulse, the other team in the bottom three, will fancy their chances at Ventforet Kofu.
Elsewhere, Tokyo host Sagan Tosu, Vissel Kobe visit Omiya Ardija and Albirex Niigata take on Yokohama F Marinos.