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Seoul After 10 Games: the Checklist (Part 2)

(Ju Se-jong scores against Seongnam FC, from SPOTV via youtube.com)
Because FC Seoul have the weekend off, I have decided to see how they have been doing after 10 games.  In part one, I looked at how their starts compares to other league champions.  In part two, I will look at how their attack stacks up against past champions, how their record compares against teams at the top of the table and bottom, leading scorers over the last five years, and luck.


3.  Have an attack that is the top 3 in scoring goals & average at least 1.5 goals per game for the season.  

Here is the ranking of attacks in the K-League Classic after 10 games.

K-League Classic Top Attacks After 10 Games
Rank
Team
GF (avg.)
1
FC Seoul
21 (2.1)
1
Jeju Utd.
21 (2.1)
3
Seongnam FC
18 (1.8)
3
Sangju Sangmu
18 (1.8)
5
Jeonbuk Hyundai
16 (1.8)
6
Suwon
14 (1.4)
7
Pohang
11 (1.1)
8
Gwangju
10 (1.1)
9
Suwon FC
9 (0.9)
10
Jeonnam
9 (0.9)
11
Incheon Utd.
8 (0.8)
12
Ulsan
7 (0.7)

Based on the goals for (GF), it is no surprise that Seoul are in first place nor that Suwon FC, Jeonnam, and Incheon are all at the foot of the table.  However, even though they have scored only seven times, worst in a league that is prizing goals scored over anything else, Ulsan somehow are not in last place. Obviously, that is a result of Ulsan winning three games while Suwon FC and Jeonnam have only won once and Incheon have yet to win a game this year.  Here is a table of the best attacks in the K-League over the last five years.

                                     K-League Top 3 Teams in Offense and Their League Position
Year
Team
Goals
GF Avg.
Pos.
2011
Jeonbuk
67
2.23
1st

Pohang
59
1.97
2nd

Seoul
56
1.87
3rd
2012
Jeonbuk
82
1.86
2nd

Seoul
76
1.72
1st

Pohang
72
1.64
3rd
2013
Pohang
63
1.66
1st

Ulsan
63
1.66
2nd

Jeonbuk
61
1.61
3rd
2014
Jeonbuk
60
1.58
1st

Suwon
52
1.37
2nd

Pohang
50
1.32
4th
2015
Suwon
60
1.58
2nd

Jeonbuk
57
1.5
1st

Jeju United
55
1.45
6th
The league winner has been first or second in goals scored and the amount of goals averaged per game.  Jeonbuk, in 2015, have scored the fewest goals for a league champion and their average of 1.5 is also the lowest.  Also, for a variety of reasons in my opinion (an exodus of quality players to China in 2012/2013/2014, conservative coaching tactics, reduction of teams in the league from 16 to 12, the split system, etc.), no team has averaged more than two goals a game since Jeonbuk in 2011.

This year, Seoul are averaging 2.1 goals a game.  If they continue to do well offensively, they will be the first team to average more two goals a game in five years and this should be good enough to win the league.

Grade: A+


(Kim Shin-wook scores against Seoul, from viva100.com)

4.  Average more than 1.5 points per game against clubs at the top of the table (1st-6th).

Teams have gone up and down the table this season, so this is a bit hard to judge.  For example, Suwon FC were in 6th place when they played Seoul, but are now 10th in the table.  Pohang, conversely were in 9th place when they came to Sangam Stadium, but after beating Seoul and drawing with Ulsan they sit in 6th place.  In other words, when Seoul played their opponent they could have been much stronger or weaker than they are currently.

However, going with the current rankings in the table, Seoul have averaged 1.5 points exactly against teams at the top.  They lost to Jeonbuk and Pohang, but beat Seongnam and Sangju.  I would say that this conforms to Choi Yong-soo's record against teams in the top six in the last five years.

Choi Yong-soo’s Record: 2011 to 2015
Versus
P
W (%)
D (%)
L (%)
GF (Avg.)
GA (Avg.)
Pts (Pct.)
Avg. Pts
Big 4
52
17 (33%)
16 (31%)
19 (37%)
53 (1.02)
63 (1.21)
67 (43%)
1.29
Top of Table
98
40 (41%)
31 (32%)
27 (27%)
125 (1.28)
109 (1.11)
151 (51%)
1.54
Rest of League
83
53 (64%)
17 (20%)
13 (16%)
154 (1.86)
79 (0.95)
176 (71%)
2.12
Of course, Choi and Seoul need to do better than averaging a draw (1.5 points) against the top sides.  Last Saturday's victory over Seongnam FC is a step in the right direction and the June 6th game against Jeju United will take on much more significance with the Tangerines good run of form recently

Grade: C- (points taken off for losing to Pohang at home)

(Dejan scores, from english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
5.  Clean up on teams at the bottom of the table.

As with the top six, the same problems apply to the bottom six.  Besides Incheon United and Jeonnam, who have been poor all year, the other teams at the bottom have been moving up and down the table all season.  Ulsan are in 8th place right now, but were in 5th when they played Seoul.   I think Ulsan should probably be in the top six, but they cannot score goals whereas Sangju Sangmu have done quite well in that regard this year.  Also, I think a team like the Suwon Bluewings should be in the top six, but sadly for them, they cannot win games.

Choi Yong-soo, in the last five year, has averaged 2.12 points against teams in the bottom six.  This year, with five wins and one draw, he is averaging 2.67 points per game, which is why Seoul have won 70% of their games and are in first place.  Some would argue that Choi is the epitome of a flat-track bully, and that may be true, but so what.  Winning games against teams at the bottom of the table can make a huge difference.

For example, if Pohang had not done so well against teams at the bottom of the table and Ulsan had done better, then Kim Shin-wook would have a medal as a league winner rather than runner up.

2013 K-League Season
                      Top of the Table                                                                  Rest of the League
Manager
P
W
D
L
Pts (Pct.)
Avg. Pts
P
W
D
L
Pts (Pct.)
Avg. Pts
Hwang Sun-hong
24
10
8
6
38 (53%)
1.58
14
11
3
0
36 (86%)
2.57
Kim Ho-gon
24
12
7
3
43 (60%)
1.79
14
10
0
4
30 (71%)
2.14

As you can see, Ulsan manager Kim Ho-gon did better than Pohang manager Hwang Sun-hong against teams in the top six.  The difference was that Hwang only dropped three points against bottom teams, whereas Kim dropped twelve points, and these six points is what allowed Pohang to make up the difference between the two teams.  In other words, winning the games you should is imperative to being the league champion, but easier said than done.

Grade: A

(Adriano defies physics and scores a brilliant goal against Suwon, from SPOTV via youtube.com)
6.  Have the league's leading scorer or a striker who is among the top three in goals scored.

Here are the top goal scorers from 2011 through to 2015.

Top 3 Leading Scorers in K-League: 2011 to 2015
Year
Player
Goals
Team
Rank
2011
Dejan
23
FC Seoul
3rd
Lee Dong-gook
16
Jeonbuk
1st
Kim Jung-woo
15
Sangju Sangmu
14th
2012
Dejan
31
FC Seoul
1st
Lee Dong-gook
26
Jeonbuk
2nd
Kim Eun-jung
16
Gangwon FC
14th
2013
Kim Shin-wook
19
Ulsan Hyundai
2nd
Dejan
19
FC Seoul
4th
Pedro Junior
17
Jeju United
9th
Kevin Oris
14
Jeonbuk
3rd
2014
Santos
14
Suwon Samsung
2nd
Lee Dong-gook
13
Jeonbuk
1st
Lim Sang-hyup
11
Busan I'Park
8th
2015
Kim Shin-wook
18
Ulsan Hyundai
7th
Adriano
15
FC Seoul
4th
Hwang Eui-jo
15
Seongnam FC
5th
Lee Dong-gook
13
Jeonbuk
1st
With the exception of 2013 and 2015, the league champion has had a player in the top three for scoring goals.  If Ulsan had won the league in 2013, then this rule would hold true since Kim Shin-woo shared the Golden Boot with Dejan that year.  Instead, a Pohang team shared the load and their top goal scorer was Cho Chan-ho with nine goals, but again that is the exception to the rule.

Last year, Lee Dong-gook was in fourth with 13 goals, but that was good enough to help Jeonbuk finish in first in a very weak league.  Here are the top goal scorers this year.  

Player
Goals
Team
Rank
Adriano
7
FC Seoul
1st
Tiago
7
Seongnam FC
3rd
Park Gi-dong
6
Sangju Sangmu
5th
Jung Jo-gook
6
Gwangju FC
9th
Lee Dong-gook
5
Jeonbuk
2nd

If Adriano continues his recent run of form and finishes in the top two, I see no reason why Seoul should not win the league based on previous history.

Grade: A+

(Osmar's only league goal, from SPOTV via youtube.com)
7.  Luck.  

It is probably one of the most important things and something that cannot be planned for.  It is often used as a form of slander when an opponent is doing well.  When teams are doing well, they are awash in it and when teams are doing poorly, they cannot get a break.  However, I think luck usually evens out in the end.  For the most part, luck has been with Seoul, especially in their victories.

  • Against Sangju, the first goal was a result of Yang Dong-won flapping at a corner and the second was a mishit shot falling perfectly to Dejan.
  • Against Incheon, Seoul's third happened because a CB took his eye off the ball when he went to clear a pass into the box.
  • Against Jeonnam, Choi Hyo-jin sticks his leg out and somehow, defying all laws of physics, trips Kim Chi-woo for a PK.
  • Against Ulsan, Kang Min-soo gifted Seoul's first goal with a horrible back pass while playing too far off Park Chu-young when he scored his winner. 
  • No major injuries for key players so far.
However, their has been some bad luck as well. 
  • Kwoun Sun-tae stops Adriano's point blank shot when Seoul seemed ascendant and killed their momentum.
  • Kim Sang-woo should have given a red card to whoever tripped Adriano from behind and with a man advantage, maybe Seoul win.  
  • Against Pohang, the team had 20 shots and Takahagi's FK hit the bar.
  • I will not talk about the AFC Champions League.
This brings me to the cliche about champions creating their own luck.  In the games against Sangju and Incheon, Seoul pressed the hell out of both teams to start and caused mistakes. I felt like in those games it was inevitable that Seoul would score.  Against Jeonnam, Seoul deserved to win and Choi Hyo-jin should have known better to stick his leg out.  Finally, as with the Sangju and Incheon games, Seoul pressed Ulsan well in the beginning and then, as champions do, dug deep to find a way to win the game at the death.  

Conversely, what can be said about Kwoun Sun-tae other than that he is the K-League's best keeper and maybe the player of the season so far.  Complaining about the ref masks how a physical Suwon defense pushed the Seoul players around and caused them to balloon shots over the goal.  Even though Seoul dominated Pohang, the team was so awful for the first 35 minutes that the Steelers deserved to win on principle.  Bad luck certainly, but it was more a factor of either superior opposition or the team just playing poorly.  

However, if Seoul can limit their poor performances and pick it up in the summer, which they usually do, then maybe they will have enough in the tank to beat a suddenly resurgent Jeonbuk side.  

Grade: To Be Determined

(Seoul, champions in 2012, from youtube.com)
In conclusion, besides losing to Jeonbuk and Pohang, the first 10 games of the season could not have gone any better.  Hopefully, with the summer months coming up, Seoul will begin to pick it up again and match the form they displayed against Buriram and Sanfrecce Hiroshima in their first two ACL games.

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