J.League Preview: Sanfrecce face Sagan test, Kashima Antlers host Shimizu
Hajime Moriyasu's men are aiming to secure a third consecutive Japanese top-flight crown but have slipped up in recent weeks.
A goalless draw with Albirex Niigata was followed by a 3-0 home defeat to Kashima Antlers on Saturday, leaving Sanfrecce fourth, albeit only a point behind the top three.
Sagan are one of the sides above Sanfrecce and should be full of confidence after winning their last three league games.
Leaders Kashima host a Shimizu S-Pulse team who are enjoying a welcome resurgence following their dismal start to the campaign.
Shimizu won just one of their first five league games, but have since bounced back in stunning fashion, claiming four successive victories without conceding a goal.
Vissel Kobe are alongside Kashima and Sagan on 18 points and will aim to continue their dream beginning to life in the top tier against Albirex.
Ryo Adachi's men were knocked off top spot at the weekend courtesy of a 2-2 draw with Cerezo Osaka, but have lost just once this season.
However, Albirex have only tasted defeat on one occasion themselves and can leapfrog Vissel with victory.
In contrast to Vissel, Tokushima Vortis have suffered a nightmare campaign to date after gaining promotion.
Tokushima have yet to claim a point and scored only their second goal in nine matches in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Albirex.
A trip to Ventforet Kofu promises to be no easy task for the league's bottom club, with the hosts having claimed two straight wins to pull away from trouble.
Last year's runners-up Yokohama F Marinos are just four points above the relegation zone ahead of their trip to Urawa Red Diamonds.
Gamba Osaka and Nagoya Grampus take on Kashiwa Reysol and Tokyo respectively and could each move ahead of Yokohama should the latter suffer a fifth league loss of the season.
Elsewhere, Cerezo host Omiya Ardija and Vegalta Sendai meet Kawasaki Frontale.