The Tavern Team has been planning this series for weeks now, but by the time the idea came up it was just a little too late to put out an August Power Ratings (Lee Chung Yong was the undisputed #1, of course). And this time around we also have an obvious undisputed #1, but what about our KPA’s? Read on for the Tavern’s ratings of each of the KPA (in Europe) and a quick roundup of how each KPA fared the past month:
The winner of the September Tavern KPA of the Month is:
Tavern Rating: 11/10
With three appearances, 139 minutes for his new club Ferencvaros, and a goal, RSW was the unanimous choice for Tavern’s KPA of the Month. Ryu, at only 23 years old, has a goal in the Hungarian League. Does Son Heungmin, Messi, or Ronaldo have any goals in the Hungarian League? Haters will say Son Heung Min doesn’t play in the Hungarian League. This is precisely why RSW gets 11/10 and #1 on our list.
Ok for real though you know who the real #1 is:
This video pretty much sums up Son’s September form – easily the best he’s ever played in his life.
August was pretty bad for Son. He never really looked too great in the Olympics, and ended up losing yet another chance at exemption. He broke into tears again, fans started getting mad at him, and memes of Son Heungmin in army gear were popping up everywhere. Granted, I was on the ridiculing side as well (“does son want to go to the army or something?”), but it was still heartbreaking to juxtapose SHM’s 애국 (aeguk, which roughly translates to patriotism/love-for-country) with things like this:
However, out of nowhere SHM decided to show up to Tottenham and go beast mode. Son goes beast mode quite often but not to this degree (and certainly not for this sustained period of time). Ironically, it was because his main rival, Erik Lamela, was just coming back from international duty that SHM managed to get a start, and boy did he seize that chance.
And then more goals and 4 straight MOTM performances ensued. Well done, Son, well done.
What changed? It’s easy to see on the pitch – his confidence in running at defenders, his general IQ and off the ball movement (although his throughpasses still suck), his shots – everything – seem improved. What caused this? Nobody knows – I guess the Olympics shock finally knocked some sense into his head? Who knows, but it’s a very welcome run of form, especially with the loss of Harry Kane and the (effective) loss of Ki Sungyong, more on that later…
2. JI DONGWON
Tavern Rating: 7.5 / 10
Ji Dongwon, the pleasant surprise of the KPA’s so far, takes #2 on our power rankings, having capped off a solid September with a fantastic goal against RasenBallSport Leipzig (I love saying that). I would never have expected this before the season started, but JDW has actually played 351/360 minutes in the Bundesliga in September, almost 100 more minutes than KJC, who seems to tire out faster than JDW.
This is a ball touch vid from the second Bundesliga match, vs. Bremen (the first match of September). This match would also be the last time he started off the bench – every game forward he played 90’. Start watching around 1-minute mark – the first minute are very isolated touches but after the 1st minute mark you’ll see some very nice dribbles from JDW:
And by now most of you have probably seen
3. KOO JACHEOL
Tavern Rating: 7.0 / 10
Koo was completely anonymous this past Friday, but that was an anomaly compared to his usual consistent self the rest of September. I only got to watch one Augsburg match in September, against Darmstadt, and he was solid. He notched an assist in this one:
Moreover, I noticed that KJC has gotten better in a lot of aspects. Confidence, linking up with his teammates, and overall composure – I liked what I saw. From the statistical end, FourFourTwo had a nice graphic that showed KJC’s influence on the game – 7/11 successful aerial duels, 43/48 successful passes, and an assist. Well done KJC.
4. LEE CHUNGYONG (tie)
Tavern Rating: 6.5 / 10
Lee Chungyong was able to enjoy a good run of starts in August but when September rolled around, he found himself off the starting lineup thanks to the decent form of Townsend, Puncheon, and Zaha. As of late, he has been coming on later and later – twice in a row he came on after the 90th minute. I still think Lee Chungyong is a much more “three-dimensional” player than the three – they’re all pretty similar and LCY offers a creativity and technicality that those three do not. But then of course, you have three classic overpriced English attacking midfielders, and that seems to be more of Pardew’s style.
We rate LCY a 6.5/10 not only because he was on good form last month and delivered a crucial match-winning assist against Sunderland after coming on in stoppage time, but also because he actually played really well in a recent Cup match (whatever that new name for the League Cup is) and got praise from Pardew in the post-match conference, even though Palace lost to Southampton.
Star performers: “Chungy was terrific tonight, he was one of our better displays. I thought him, Damo and the goalkeeper were all terrific in a team that was disjointed towards the end. I actually thought Damo was our best player tonight.”
4. SUK HYUNJUN (tie)
Tavern Rating: 6.5 / 10
Having played 270/270 league minutes in the month of September (he played 90/90 on 10/1 as well) + 90/90 minutes + a goal in the Turkish Cup, you would think Suk would be higher up on this list. The problem is, Trabzonspor is playing very poorly (if you count the 10/1 match they’ve scored 1 and conceded 9). Worse, 2) we have literally no idea how he’s playing because footage just does not exist for this guy. The goal hasn’t popped up, comments on his playing haven’t popped up either, and all in all no one really seems to know what’s going on with Suk over in Turkey. That being said, he is getting a solid run of playing time and his form will hopefully show when the Qatar/Iran games approach.
5. CHOI KYUNGROK
Tavern Rating: 6.0 / 10
The Tavern unfortunately glosses over Choi Kyung Rok, but he is actually faring very well. He has started every game in September, although like Suk Hyun Jun, there is very little information on how well he’s actually playing. That being said, CKR gets a 6.0/10 for actually improving his game week by week unlike a certain handful of players below:
6. KI SUNGYONG (tie)
Tavern Rating: 5.0 / 10
A common maxim in the Korean football community is that 99% of the time, we are the cause of our own defeat. It’s certainly true in the KNT, and I also feel this in my own life (I feel like I’ve shot myself in the foot many times too but I digress). Anyway, Ki’s downfall is his temper. After his spat with Guidolin Ki has gone from playing poorly to playing REALLY poorly, and I can say with confidence he does not deserve a place on the Swansea starting lineup. In fact, I almost don’t want to call him up for the KNT because in that offensive midfield position I can guarantee Lee Jae Sung will perform much better.
If we were thinking of the usual 4-1-4-1 (this is what we generally play against weaker opponents such as Qatar) with SHJ – SHM KJC KSY LJS/JDW – HKY, it is painfully clear that there LJS and JDW are on VERY good form while KSY is at what could be an all-time low. So I really do think the best way to go would be SHJ – SHM KJC LJS JDW – HKY.
Fortunately for KSY a lot of players have this kind of problem after military training, so maybe he’ll get his act together if (when?) Guidolin is sacked (the rumors say Ryan Giggs)
6. HWANG HEECHAN (tie)
Tavern Rating: 5.0 / 10
A lot of people said HHC was making a mistake with RB Salzburg. I thought HHC would be playing by now, but he isn’t. Though he did start once back in August he didn’t contribute much and has played a mere 5 minutes this September. He did score against a Cup opponent (the first team was rested due to Champions League matters) though, but then again the team won 7-0 so it doesn’t say all that much.
You have to wonder, would HHC have actually played for Pohang had he stayed in the K League? Hwang Sun Hong did say he wanted to build a team around Hwang HC but how many 18 year olds ever get playing time in the K League? Hindsight tells us K League might’ve been the way to go (he’s 20 and probably would be playing by now, and Austria D2 < K League), although I guess it’s very hard to go to Europe from the K League so … maybe ultimately HHC did make the right choice, who knows.
7. PARK JOOHO
Tavern Rating: 1.0 / 10
Not playing but hey he gets to train with some of the world’s best. Also as Tim noted, he took a pic with Cha DR. So he gets 1.0/10 unlike…
8. KIM JINSU :'(
Tavern Rating: 0.0 / 10 🙁 🙁 🙁
Not a single bench appearance nor a cup appearance this entire season… I really don’t understand how one can go from being one of Hoffenheim’s best performers to an absolute nobody after two managerial changes. I also find it shocking that no other team wants to buy him. Life really is unfair for our KJS…