Now that the New Year has dawned upon us the Tavern is abuzz with recaps and predictions for 2017. A podcast is already out, and we have more posts planned for our Taverngoers:
- A 16 for 2016 series that recaps the 16 significant highs and lows of Korean Football in 2016.
- A Tavern wishlist for 2017
- The Tavern’s End-of-Year awards: vote for the breakout player, best coach, worst coach, best player, best goal, and more!
- An update on upcoming potential transfers (i.e. Kwon Changhoon and Lee Jaesung)
- And more!
Anyway, today’s post will feature the Tavern Power Rankings for December. Time constraints prevented us from putting out a November power rankings (it might have been for the better as November might’ve been the worst month for our KPAs), so here is our December edition! In this we are going to omit Park Jooho and Kim Jinsu as usual, but include the rest of the players we have been including thus far. With the exception of Ryu SW of course, since he by default grabs #1 spot since no other KPA ever has scored in the Hungarian League before (someone back me up on this please).
Apologies in advance for not sticking to a template for these, but since we had skipped the November rankings I decided we’d start fresh and go with the old formula again when it comes time for the January power rankings. Without further ado… here are the December KPA Power Rankings!
1. Ji Dongwon
Rating: 8.0 / 10
Son Heungmin might’ve stolen the news with his blistering form in September but to be honest, the “KPA of mid-season” so far has undoubtedly been Ji Dongwon. This man has remained consistency throughout the entire month. He continued his streak of good passing and aerial dominance (maybe JDW won’t get to PJY levels of aerial prowess but he’s very good at winning headers). I’ve said over and over that we can’t just take Whoscored ratings at face value, but his season average right now is at 7.07 (December average 6.96). This is most certainly a testament to how consistently well (ok for KPA standards) JDW has been playing. In fact, his only bad game in December was against Hamburg, when FC Koreaburg fell to a 1-0 loss. Reports suggested JDW was quite invisible that game, but the reports also suggest that the team as a whole just played incredibly poorly. One more thing to mention: JDW is so valued at Augsburg that even with a managerial change (Schuster got sacked mid-December), he retained his starting position and continued to play 90′ and score goals.
And a conversation about Ji Dongwon wouldn’t be complete without a mentioning of his stunning goals. The Dortmund one was a little lucky due to an error from Weidenfeller but the Frankfurt goal was quite a work of art (KJC and JDW, entertaining Augsburg fans with long range screamers since 2011?)
2. Hwang Heechan
Rating: 7.0 / 10
If the likes of KSY and LCY were disappointing all the fans this season, Hwang Heechan is one of the few players to have risen to the occasion. This guy started all 3 of Salzburg’s December league matches (he sat out in the Europa League vs. Schalke though) and managed to score in one. Why is his score just a 7? This is because Hwang Heechan himself had a bit of a mixed performance while JDW was consistently pretty good save for the HSV match. For those of you who have ever watched the Austrian Bundesliga, you may share my opinion that it is one REALLY chaotic and is almost painful to watch (perhaps worse than the K League). Possession and tactics aren’t really a thing. I don’t expect HHC to play for Salzburg the way he does for the U23 KNT, but my oh my he was pretty poor at times in the first two games (yes I watched all three of the Lord’s games). Against Wolfsberger, however, I saw far more glimpses of the KNT HHC. He provided a dummy assist that game to Minamino and could have had more it his teammates could’ve finished better. I fully expect HHC to continue to start for Salzburg when the next round of Austrian Bundesliga matches comes around.
3. Son Heungmin
Rating 6.0 / 10
Counting Tottenham’s game vs Watford on 1/1 as a December game (since every other match that round was in December), SHM started on the bench in every one of Tottenham’s 7 December games except for 2. He scored twice, but it was against a very poor Swansea side (the team won 5-0) and a 10-man Southampton side (where he got a lucky assist to score in a 4-1 victory). He did score twice in this interval, taking his total PL goal tally to 6, but he surely didn’t turn any heads with his performances. The Watford game was actually pretty bad and it was clear that SHM was the worst of Tottenham’s attacking players. He’s improved a little since November but he’s still got a long way to go if he’s ever going to match his September form. However, I had to give SHM a 6.0 for is ridiculously sick goal (and assist) vs. Swansea. That was actually really refreshing to see. The Southampton goal was REALLY lucky in that the pass that freed SHM took a deflection off a defender, but it was a great finish nonetheless.
Here are the goals:
4. Lee Chungyong
Rating: 5.0 / 10
OK so this one might surprise some of you. LCY got a 5 while SHM only got a 6? LCY, who played 1 useless PL match against Man United while SHM at least got sub appareances in five (and started in two?) Hell SHM score 2 goals! What’s going on here?
I’m going to be honest, this one was a little bit colored by expectations. We expect SHM to play much better than LCY. SHM was far below his usual standard and played pretty poorly even when he started. LCY, however, actually played decently well for a guy who only has ~400 minutes this season. His ball touches actually aren’t that bad, barring a dangerous turnover in the first half. He passed pretty well, won possession back at times, and even did some really cool dribbling moves to shake off Herrera at 1:22 in the video below. It was so reminiscent of the old LCY we grew to know and love back when Bolton was still PL :'(
5. Koo Ja Cheol
Rating: 5.0 / 10
This seems incredibly harsh to KJC, our traditional Bastion of Consistency, but the truth is KJC was injured pretty much the entirety of December, and the one time he played he was quite rusty. In fact, KJC was dropped entirely from the last match of the month vs. Dortmund. I didn’t watch this match, but it seems that KJC contributed very little. Probably even less than LCY did. KJC, did, however, have a decent November.
7. Ki Sungyong
Rating: 3.0 / 10
Once considered the best KPA, KSY has fallen to a true career low. Swansea is in complete shambles and KSY needs to get out ASAP. Why the 3? He got little playing time AND played embarrassingly poorly. Hopefully he doesn’t move to China but that will be covered in a future post..
6. Suk Hyunjun
Suk has yet to play a single minute for Trabzonspor in the month of December. He needs to get out of Turkey but knowing SHJ he’ll get a random move to a random country in Europe in no time. Though I must say a return to Setubal would be really cool.
And that’s a wrap? Do you agree with our standings? Leave your thoughts below!