Happy New Year! Before we begin this short post, some of the Tavern writers are getting together NYE tonight to record a podcast, reflecting on a tumultuous 2016 – with all the highs (like Jeonbuk winning Asian Champions League, Son’s hot start for Spurs) and lows (ie Korea U23 crashing out of the Olympics) you’d expect from this roller coaster year in Korean football. We’ll get that out ASAP as we’ll have minimal editing, so stay tuned to that.
First off, Boxing Day+ roundup:
Ki was out injured on a miserable 1:4 loss to West Ham. Out goes the experiment that was Bob Bradley as manager
Lee Chung-Yong in the 18, not featured for Sam Allardyce’s managerial debut for Crystal Palace. Conservative 1:1 draw, no LCY.
And though Spurs didn’t have a Boxing Day fixture, Wed Dec 28 they played away at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium and dominated the Saints. Son entered in the 74th minute with the score still a tentative 1:2, Son latched onto a Christian Eriksen pass, raced on with acres of space and with the most clinical of finishes, helped put the game to bed. Take a look:
Son's goal gives Spurs some breathing room enroute to a 1:4 win at Southampton. Spurs stay in top 5, momentum going into 2017 pic.twitter.com/f1yqEvKZJr
— The Tavern 🇰🇷⚽️ (@taeguk_warrior) December 28, 2016
Stay with us, more after the jump…
A bit more Son for you, Spurs twitter conducted online end of year poll and Son had 2 of his 2016 goals make it through a fun video playoff, eventually down to the final top 4 Spurs goals of the year. While he didn’t win the overall top vote getter (Dele Alli won that), you can relieve his brilliant strikes – one against Middlesbrough when he had a torrid run of form back in September when he won Premier League player of that month, and a more recent volley against Swansea in early December.
Our top 4️⃣ @PremierLeague goals in 2016, as chosen by you! 🙌
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 31, 2016
Now that’s out of the way, we go to New Years Day fixtures – except we can’t yet as Ki Sung-Yeung finally returned today after a long recovery from a broken toe. He went 90 minutes in a 0:3 defeat at home against Bournemouth. Paul Clement has been appointed Swansea boss. Swans are in deep deep trouble, sitting right at the bottom with 12 points.
Now onto NYD:
Watford v Spurs 8:30am (US EST/ US TV: NBCSN)
Arsenal v Crystal Palace 11am (US EST/ US TV: NBCSN)
While Lee Chung-Yong didn’t see action on Boxing Day, Big Sam will be thinking rotation rotation rotation, thus me thinks the Blue Dragon’s services will be called upon. That and Lee may have to fill in for Zaha, who will be gone in January to join Ivory Coast for their African Cup of Nations pursuit.
If Son does enter the game for the Spurs (my bet is he will start based on the necessary rotation needed during festive season fixtures) Watford will be wary based on what he did to them last year, a game winner with a cheeky backheel that nutmegged Watford’s keeper.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 28, 2016
and I didn’t realize this, but perhaps one reason Poch didn’t start Son last Wednesday, Son looks to have figured to have been Korea’s busiest pro footballer in 2016 in terms of sheer number of appearances – that according to the KFA.
Son Heung-min made most appearances among S. Korean footballers in 2016: KFA https://t.co/b27SBfMDe4
— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) December 29, 2016
Thus, if Son had a cold spell after such a blazing hot start to his season, might be understandable – he’s tired. His sub appearances have actually been very decent, check out HEON’s summary of Son’s touches against Burnley on Dec 18th:
Looked pretty dynamic, and the theory is Son needed a rest here and there, we may expect a productive 2017 and double digit numbers from Son as they enter the 2nd half of the season chasing Chelsea and a Europa League title.
Extra Time: Lee Seung-Woo was participating in the Share the Dream football charity match along with some notable Korean pro footballers. Below he’s posing with Augsburg’s Koo Ja-Cheol and (is that Kim Seung-Gyu?)
Gracias a todos los fans que asistieron hoy al estadio!!⚽️
너무 뜻깊은 시간 보낸 것 같아서 행복합니다. 경기장까지 와주셔서 응원해주신 팬분들 감사합니다!! 내년에 또 만나요!💝 pic.twitter.com/rkjT1IwHoD
— S W Lee 이승우 (@Seungwoolee) December 27, 2016
See you on the flipside! Keep a look for our 2016 podcast that will preview our 16 for 2016 musing at the Tavern. Chal Ga!