Another weekend gone by and lots of action for our KPAs. Regardless of the club’s situation, a lot of the KPAs are getting minutes and coming back to full form! Let’s run through all the developments!
Kwon Changhoon-Kwon is the man on form for Dijon at the moment and after a golazo in midweek against Amiens in a losing effort, he was back at it on Friday against Bordeaux. I’ll leave his highlights down below but his most important contribution is starting the buildup to Dijon’s late gamewinner. Quite simply, Dijon probably don’t score without the quick decision that Kwon makes to first-time the crossfield ball to a teammate. After that, good technical control and smart passes moves the ball into the box quickly for a goal to give Dijon a 3-2 win. But Kwon starts the move by finding space and spotting his teammate’s run excellently. If he takes down that ball he might get closed down by a defender or his teammate may lose that inch of space he has to exploit and the move would break down. Kwon right now is thriving as part of a exciting team playing good football!
Ki Sungyeung-Watching the highlights of a 2-1 loss that puts Swansea at the bottom of the Premier League is not something I relish, but Ki played 90 and looks back to full fitness and form. On Swansea’s goal, Ki is manning the midfield and calls for the ball when Stoke are pulled out of shape. He releases Martin Olsson into acres of spaces and Olsson provides a perfect ball for Wilfried Bony to attack and put in the back of the net. Ki had a low stinger saved later on in the match but Swansea’s frailties on defense were exposed in both Stoke goals. Paul Clement has a lot of work to do and Ki acknowledged in his post-match interview that Swans need to start getting points as nothing else matters at this point. Swansea look to be once again relegation candidates but it is encouraging to see that Ki has gotten over his injuries and is back to contributing to the team on a weekly basis.
Suk Hyun-jun-Suk played 90 minutes in a close loss to Guingamp in a bottom half Ligue 1 battle. Just as in the midweek loss to PSG, the highlights show Suk getting involved in the play and getting into dangerous positions, even if the results don’t quite come off. He’s getting stuck in on 50-50s, driving the ball forward, making crosses, and fighting for headers in the box with relish. With Shin TY coming for a look in the coming weeks, Suk has nailed down a place in the starting XI and is showing the kind of workrate that any manager would love to see in their striker. A well-deserved recall to the KNT can’t be far away.
Lee Seung-woo-Another substitute appearance for Lee and some perspective on his current situation at Hellas. I was thinking about this yesterday and we should make sure to stay realistic about what we see from Lee this season. Last year, Lee was featuring either at the reserve or youth level with Barca and now he is making the drastic jump to Serie A at the age of 19. The youth and reserve level of La Liga is very different from Serie A and Lee is showing the growing pains on a weekly basis. Lee will need to work in the gym to get stronger to match up with older, more experienced players and continue to work hard with his teammates to develop chemistry in the attacking third. One moment from yesterday’s match sticks out as a prime example of Lee not being quite there yet. He gets the ball with plenty of space to drive forward in search of an equalizer and has two immediate options. Either take it wide and beat the defender so that a shot will open up near the top of the box or move towards the center of the field and occupy defenders until a teammate can make the run in behind. Since the defender has a few yards on him, Lee chooses wisely to move back into the center to occupy defenders. Unfortunately, he tries a skill move that doesn’t come off and gets tackled off the ball just as a frustrated teammate is rushing into the box. For Lee, the effort and ideas are there but he will need more time on the pitch to adjust to the senior level. That Hellas Verona were willing to take a gamble on him and have consistently given him about 20 substitute minutes a game plus cup appearances is a huge plus for his career. Hellas will be in the relegation fight this season and the manager clearly sees something in Lee on the training ground to warrant playing him even when the production of assists and goals isn’t there yet. For Lee’s career, this is about as good a situation as he could have hoped to find. Lee will continue to develop in Serie A and will move up the youth ladder for the KNT at his own pace. Most likely, his next tournament will be the Asian Games this coming summer. Days like yesterday show that taking Lee to the World Cup are a stretch on his current form.
Lee Chung-yong-A drab draw for Crystal Palace at the Hawthorns and again Lee is out of the matchday squad. January is coming so we will see what Lee is thinking ahead of the World Cup. Does he stay at Palace and fight for a place even if it costs him a World Cup place or does he move for minutes hoping to come back into Shin’s plans?
Son Heung-min-Spurs’ poor run of form continues but Son did get on the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw with a Watford very much punching above their weight. Son’s goal once again shows a striker’s instincts in the box as he goes straight for the six yard box to meet the low ball played in from Eriksen. Easy tap-in, and if Son can get this kind of service with the KNT our scoring woes will not be such a concern. In the box it is very clear Son knows what he is doing. Against APOEL tomorrow in the Champions League Spurs will probably rotate and Son should get a chance to lead the line with Llorente.
Ji Dong-won, Koo Ja-cheol-Ji didn’t feature at all in this 3-1 win for Augsberg and Koo came off after 59 minutes. Koo has recently come out and said he is concerned about his lack of playing time ahead of the World Cup and Ji is finding it hard to get on the pitch as well. We may see a move from one or both of them in January. Watch this space.
Lee Jinhyun, Hwang Hee-chan-A 1-1 draw in the Austrian Korea Derby where young stars Lee and Hwang both start. Hwang will likely go to the World Cup if he continues his goalscoring form and could even challenge for the starting XI. For Lee, if Shin TY gives him a look during the March friendlies he could make a shock last minute play for the 23 man squad as this transfer to Austria continues to play big dividends for him.
Thanks for reading my first weekend roundup and stick with us for a busy month of December. We’ve got the EAFF E-1 Championship coming up for both the men and women, a busy holiday fixture schedule in Europe, and 17 for 17 posts to recap an eventful year in Korean football! Stay tuned!