Son Starts for Spurs in Champions League today / (Quick) Wed Kickaround

Hello all, it’s been a loooong time, a lot has happened since the last update on KPA goings-on (though Jae did post up about K League Quinela for the 1st round of games as they’ve launched the 2018 season – see that here). Quick explanation: everyone here at the Tavern has been extremely busy – I finally got to finish a significant part of a family documentary detailing my father’s family harrowing escape from North Korea during the war. That of course meant the Tavern was regretfully neglected, but regardless -we’re back again. What did I miss? A whole hell of a lot, but let’s get situated for the present:

There was quite a bit of debate amongst analysts wondering what Pochettino would do: pick the in-form Son or Lamela who started leg 1 at Turin. What has Son done to make his case?  All he’s done is score 4 goals and provided 2 assists in the last 2 starts for Spurs between last Wednesday’s FA Cup tie with Rochdale and Saturday’s dominating performance in Prem action against Hudderfield. Seems like the reporters and analysts got their answer a few minutes ago on Twitter with the starting XI.  A lot of competition in the midfield, the case for Son – nearly foreshadowed when Poch rested Son after his 2 goals won the day vs Hudderfield – apparently won the day.



We can’t go back in time and review all the ups and downs of KPA’s in Europe in the past couple of weeks unfortunately, but we can do a quick roundup that highlights Son’s return to form, Ki Sung-Yeung and Swansea’s resurgence of late, and some positive-ish results from K League clubs in matchday 2 of the Asian Champions League, Ulsan having just notched a hard fought point at Shanghai SIPG, a 2-2 draw that ended a few hours ago.

First, back to a trusty source, here’s Korean Footballers Abroad for a brief weekend KPA recap:

Koo Ja Cheol — Augsburg struggled and Koo turned invisible. Augsburg was a bit wonky with lots of injuries and Koo had a hard time impacting the match. He wasn’t the weak link but not as dynamic as he had been in prior weeks. Augsburg 0:2 Hoffenheim

Ki Sung Yueng — Ki may have shown that he made the right decision staying with Swansea instead of West Ham, as Ki propelled Swansea to a 4-1 victory over them that moved them all the way into 13th in the table. Ki started the scoring with a long distance shot into the corner and then assisted the next with a great corner. His set pieces over the past couple months have been brilliant. While he got a bit too fancy at the end, Ki looked to be in full control of his powers which is great news for Swansea’s survival hopes.

Suk Hyun Jun — I watched some but he might as well not have been on as Troyes struggled to do anything going forward. Troyes 0:2 PSG

Kwon Chang Hoon — I didn’t watch him come on as a sub but apparently had a decent chance at goal.

St Etienne 2:2 Dijon

Lee Seung Woo — Postponed. RIP Astori.

Lee Chung Yong — Unused sub. They found a way to throw away a two goal lead without any of LCY’s help.

Crystal Palace 2:3 Manchester United
Tavern Owner back again: Son was pretty brilliant on Saturday – stark contrast to what was perhaps his shakiest performance of the season only a week and a half before that in a FA Cup tie at Rochdale (Feburary 18th).  Son going 1v1 on the keeper – not once but twice –  just couldn’t deliver. He looked tentative at pulling the trigger to fire in what looked like good shooting opportunities. His confidence and decision making seemed at a season low.  The running narrative that has quite a bit of traction to it is that Son has regrouped in his mind and in his confidence. Given the start in the replay against Rochdale at a snowy Wembley last Wednesday, the chance to get back into a more competitive squad with Lamela and Lucas Moura all vying for spots, there was not fear from Son to go at defenders – he was a roaming constant threat. His shot and Lamela’s rebounded goal should have counted if it wasn’t for VAR. Undaunted, Son used his patented side-step & cut inside to skip past 3 defenders and curled it past a log-jam of Rochdale defenders for Spurs goal #1. While headlines would be devoted to the VAR penalty that was disallowed for stopping in the middle of the run up (poppycock because he didn’t technically make a full stop), he didn’t allow that to get to him. In the 2nd half, he made a great run to the goal line and scooped it brilliantly to a wide open Llorente to head in. Son used his pace for Lamela to find him, a brace and a early exit meant a start against Huddersfield.
Fast forward to Saturday, by now everyone has seen Son’s fantastic 1v1 – rounding the keeper with a feint – Son is learning from his past 1v1 failures and there’s no doubt Poch worked with Son in training to be more clinical in this category. The goal that has people talking however is the 2nd Spurs goal. Kane’s unbelievable cross on the far right side – double teamed no less – and the pinpoint precision to which the ball bounced right in front of Son.
I should move on, but I can’t help but to deconstruct this 2nd goal down. There are several moving parts to making this a delicious goal to witness.
  • As mentioned before, Kane’s cross – which he was able to get on the ball following Alli’s pressure on Huddersfield. Despite traffic, Kane takes one look up and quickly does some mental computations before launching the audacious cross.
  • That mental calculus factored in one Son Heung-Min, who, much like the goal scored in Spur’s first encounter with Liverpool last fall, Kane saw Son racing – and beating by a country mile all other defenders around him streaking on the center left of the pitch. By somehow getting the cross around the defender, the ball bounced just perfectly floating right to Son’s head.
  • That’s not to dismiss Son’s role, as he famously and humbly deflected all credit to Kane for the goal, Son reacted quickly, in a flash he has to adjust for the keeper trying to make himself large on the pitch in front of him, and slightly leans back in order to head that in across goal – around Lossl – and on into the net.


Moving on, Ki Sung-Yeung put in a heroic Man of the Match performance (Son earned that too on Saturday) in a comprehensive 4-1 beat down of West Ham. Ki scored the first goal and got the assist from a wickedly precise corner kick for the 2nd goal. Good thing Ki didn’t move to West Ham!



Kickoff in a few minutes, I’ll update Asian Champions League results a bit later, I’ll leave you with video highlights from Saturday from Ki and Son – both of whom have made a bit of press, upticks in Prem power rankings and a number of Team of the Week selections.



About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
The old Tavern Owner


  1. They’re up against it now. Even though Son got a goal, I have a feeling if Juventus pull this one out the selection will come into question. Tottenham didn’t need goals after all..

    • Not blaming Son of course. He did his job (for the most part… he, like all the other attacking players are gonna rue their missed chances). Tale of two halfs
      I just meant that strategically Tottenham should’ve just parked the bus. Juventus knows how to get goals when they need to. And then when they get even the slimmest of advantages, it’s impossible to score against them cuz they’re so good at defending.
      Not a huge Tottenham fan though, so maybe the team isn’t made as one that can successfully park the bus.
      Good learning experience for them as young players as much as it probably hurts

  2. Really disappointing result for Spurs. Obviously great to see Son score on the highest stage against one of Europe’s best clubs. But this is clearly an indication that Spurs just can’t seem to crack that next tier. Granted, drawing Juve in the Round of 16 after topping a group with Madrid and Dortmund is terrible luck. And this will definitely help their campaign for finishing in the top 4 in Premier League. But Spurs can’t consider itself a top club if it can’t advance in Champions League. I’m sure there will be implications on the players they retain after this season / wages they can pay players.

    On a macro level, glad to see Ki and Son starting to peak in form as we near WC 2018. Need the same from Kwon, Koo, Hwang, and a few other key players. Rooting for Suk to regain his form, and then we’ll see how the defensive core start playing in Korea. Let’s just hope people stay healthy.

  3. I don’t think Tottenham should have parked the bus. They outplayed Juve except for maybe a 10 minute stretch in the 2nd half, it almost seems cruel that they couldn’t advance, but that’s life sometimes. Thankfully Barzagli didn’t break any part of Sonny’s leg, the replays make me cringe.

  4. Missed you guys! So glad that you guys are back but 2 things. would love to see your family documentary and let’s pray for a reunification of Korea.

    Will spurs finish top 4 this season?! What will this mean for Son, his military career and his contract extension? any way out besides the Asian games?!

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