Thursday, March 3, 2016

Midweek Recap - Mar 2nd and Weekend Preview/Schedule Mar 5th

This season continues to go poorly for Korean footballers in Europe, with relegation struggles and poor form / lack of use being continuing themes well into 2016 now.

DayTime (ET)PlayerClubOpponentTV
Saturday7:45 AMSon Heung MinTottenhamArsenalNBCSN
Saturday9:30 AMHong Jeong HoAugsburgLeverkusenFox Sports 1
Saturday9:30 AMJi Dong WonAugsburgLeverkusenFox Sports 1
Saturday9:30 AMKoo Ja CheolAugsburgLeverkusenFox Sports 1
Saturday9:30 AMKim Jin SuHoffenheim@StuttgartFox Soccer 2 Go
Saturday10:00 AMKi Sung YuengSwanseaNorwichNBC Extra Time
Saturday12:30 PMPark Joo HoDortmundBayern MunichFX / Fox Soccer Plus
Sunday3:30 AMSuk Hyun JunPorto@BragaNone
Sunday8:30 AMLee Chung YongCrystal PalaceLiverpoolNBCSN

Son Heung Min -- Came on with about 20 minutes to go and while provided some energy, he was as poor as his teammates were during the whole match.  The lack of characteristic fluidity shown by Tottenham was startling and worrisome ahead of North London derby this weekend. While the loss didn't impact title race, at least Arsenal can point to better play and mistakes and poor finishing for the loss.  As to how Son might be used this weekend, I am guessing Pochettino will be looking to change a few things, but most likely Alli will come into the XI with Son being less clear, with Chadli and Mason being most likely first to make way.  I suspect that he will start for now.

Koo Ja Cheol -- Despite pulling out with calf strain on the weekend, Koo Ja Cheol started and struggled again in the "8" role.  His best moments were when he pushed forward but vs. an aggressive Hoffenheim, he was often too deep to help on offense, and on defense he looked really tentative and out of place.  The decline of his ability to play a more defenssive role is a bit disappointing from KNT perspective where he could provide value at two positions instead of just one, and similarly Augsburg need him to play better while Baier is injured.  He was pulled with 15 or so minutes to go for a defensive sub but yet Augsburg conceded and dropped a valuable point in their relegation fight.  He should start this weekend against a suddenly struggling Leverkusen side.

Hong Jeong Ho -- He made his first step to recovery by being named to the bench but he's still a bit off I suspect as he wasn't called on when Koo went off, with Weinzierl using Janker instead.  Gouweeleeuw played ok enough if not great so I suspect a bench role again for HJH this weekend.

Ji Dong Won -- In reverse of HJH, he was a surprise non-inclusion in the squad, as I thought they could have used an alternate to Altintop before the match. And it played out that way during the match too, as Augsburg struggled on offense. Not sure what went on with news being hard to come by on short week.  But I have to think Weinzierl will want to change things on offense and perhaps look once more to Ji at least off the bench.

Kim Jin Su -- With Ochs starting, Toljan was of course the fullback selected.  Ochs really struggled on defense but was really aggressive in attack, providing an assist while being very advanced on the pitch.  But Ochs did have a leg injury causing him to be subbed off so KJS may be called to fill in Toljan's spot on the bench this weekend.

Ki Sung Yueng -- Swansea were a mess for much of the first half, and Ki was certainly not helping with yet another sluggish performance.  Unlike past couple weeks where he mostly struggled defending, he had problems even retaining possession, losing the ball cheaply several times with bad decisions and poor passes.  He was slightly better as Swansea tweaked their shape but it was no surprise that he was the one sacrificed when Swansea shifted back to 4-2-3-1.  Fortunately, Swansea withstood the Arsenal attack and got a huge and unexpected three points and widened the gap to the relegation zone.  With a huge match vs Norwich this weekend where Swansea can really separate from the other relegation teams, we will see who Guidolin selects in CM/DM roles, with Cork playing well but Fer not doing much better than Ki beyond having fresher legs.

Park Joo Ho -- Continues to be left off the squad with no signs of change.

Suk Hyun Jun -- With Porto having a huge aggregate lead vs 2nd tier opponents, Suk was rested which is also a good sign for his role this weekend where he should start.

Lee Chung Yong -- Crystal Palace played better but still only drew vs Sunderland, and still LCY continues to be on the margins sitting the full 90 on the bench. Looks like LCY has a long way to go before he makes it back into Pardew's thoughts and will continue to be the last man on the bench or off the squad altogether for the time being.