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Writer's Chat: Jeonnam Dragons vs Jeju United Preview

Jeonnam welcomes a 5th place and suddenly struggling Jeju United to Gwangyang this Saturday who will look to turn around their road struggles against an up and down Dragons team. Jeonnam columnist Ryan Walters and Jeju columnist Duncan Elder discuss both teams home and away form as well as recent transfers, and what's likely to happen this weekend.

Duncan Asks, Ryan Answers

Duncan Elder: Jeonnam have made two signings already this transfer window, what will these two players bring to the team and are any of them likely to play against Jeju?

Ryan Walters: The hope with both Tomislav Mrčela and Jair is that they'll bring stability to the front and back of a shaky Jeonnam squad. Mrčela's a 195cm tall fringe Australian national teamer who not only brings a physical presence that's been sorely missing, but should also be able to confidently martial the backline and organize an incredibly frail center of the pitch. Jair will be a familiar name for folks in your part of the land as he was last seen in K-League with the Islanders. That was back in 2012, and he's since spent time in the Arabian Gulf League, J2, and J1 with... less than ideal success. However, those that have seen him play say he has solid pace and that's one thing the Dragons will be sorely missing with the departure of Mislav Oršić. If nothing else, he's at least a different attacking option on a team that's running quite short in that department. I'd expect both to start this Saturday and hopefully factor into the match.

DE: Yang Ju-na transferred from Jeju to Jeonnam over the winter transfer window, how has he been performing?

RW: Reliably. He has 11 starts through 18 matches and has been versatile enough to play both CDM and more than occasionally on the backline. He's even surprised a bit with 2 goals so far this season and has been one of the only midfielders capable of transitioning the ball from the defense to the attackers. Hopefully Mrčela's arrival means Yang can play his more natural position of CDM in front of the backline and occasionally roam forward as well. He's proven capable enough defensively to shield the backline on his own and hopefully will be one of the central pieces in a shift from the 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 diamond with him as the defensive anchor of the midfield behind Vedran Jugović. Or possibly a 4-3-3 with similar responsibilities. Pipe dreams aside, Yang has established himself as a lynchpin for this team in less than half a season. Pretty impressive stuff.

DE: Last time Jeju played Jeonnam we won 3-0 and kept a rare clean sheet. Is there any reason for the Jeju defence to be more concerned this time round?

RW: I really wish I could say yes, but no, not really. The Dragons only have 4 games scoring 2 or more goals out of 18 matches played this year, so the track record really isn't there to suggest they're capable of worrying the Jeju defense any more than they did last time. Though they've been better at home of late, they've only scored 5 in their previous 5 home matches and were shut out twice. Throw in the departure of leading goal scorer Oršić and they shouldn't be overly concerning to anyone... yet. If Jair is able to gel with the team and Noh Sang-rae actually plays Cho Suk-jae, then maybe things will change, but it's highly unlikely all that will happen this weekend.

DE: Despite their respective positions in the league, Jeju have conceded more goals that Jeonnam. Jeju generally try to make up for their poor defence by scoring more goals, how are Jeonnam trying to solve the problem?

RW: If the Mrčela signing's any indication, then they appear to be going at the issue directly. The simple fact of the matter is the Jeonnam defensemen just haven't been good enough this year and they need to be replaced. However, it should be noted that a portion of the blame needs to be shouldered by the manager. Far too many set piece goals have been conceded by defenders not knowing their assignments and leaving players unmarked. Additionally, they've often seemed confused whether their zone marking or playing man-to-man. And while that comes down to the coach, capable defenders can make adjustments on the field and communicate with each other to solve the problem. With a healthy Choi Hyo-jin back in the lineup and "Tomi" as he'll be known here taking up a center back role, there seems to be hope. That said, an additional CB signing or a lock-down leftback in the transfer window would be smart.

DE: How do you think this game will pan out?

RW: Jeonnam's a team in transition that doesn't score a lot, but Jeju's winless in 3 and has been shut out in 3 of their previous 5. This has low-scoring draw written all over it. I'll be optimistic for entertainment's sake and say it'll finish 1-1.

Ryan Asks, Duncan Answers

Ryan Walters: Though this is nothing new, Jeju are performing much better at home yet again this year. They've only lost once on the island, but the other 6 of their 7 losses have come on the road. Basic logic would suggest it's because of travel, but there has to be more to it than that, right? Are there tactical changes on the road? What gives?

Duncan Elder: Yea well actually mid way through the season I thought we had perhaps overcome the away game curse. After early away losses to Jeonbuk and a Jung Jo Gook inspired Gwangju we went on to record away wins against Ulsan, Suwon and (finally!) FC Seoul. Recently we have dropped off again, including a terrible performance against Sangju and a very unlucky loss in the last game against Incheon when we conceded two last minute goals.

My theory is that in away games our opponents (the home team) expect to get something from the game so are more likely to come out and attack us. As defense isn’t our strong point we are therefore more likely to concede and ultimately lose the game.

RW: As you brought up, Jeju only have 3 clean sheets this season and one of them was in the reverse fixture. Was that more of a strong defensive showing from Jeju or an inept performance by Jeonnam? What went right in that match defensively and will they employ the same strategy this weekend? 

DE: Yea well Jeju have two strong CB’s who are excellent at dealing with crosses and long balls. I didn’t see the game but if your tactic was to get the ball up to Ristic I imagine they would have dealt with that quite well. Of course Jeonnam have made a few changes to their squad so I guess you will attack in a different way in the upcoming game which will require a change in defensive tactics on our behalf.

RW: In 10 out of 18 games this year Jeju have conceded 2 or more goals and it's been especially bad on the road where they have a -4 goal difference (compared to the +9 they carry at home). However, Jeonnam have only scored 16 goals through 14 matches at home this year. Will one of the teams buck the trend this weekend, or do you see a low scoring affair in the cards?

DE: I can certainly see Jeju scoring this weekend, which means Jeonnam will have to come and and get a goal if they want the points. I don’t see you boys carrying that much of a threat but as you mentioned Jeju certainly know how to concede goals away from home.

RW: Toscano leads the team with 6 goals, but more interestingly there are four players tied with 4. What's helped cultivate such a balanced attack?

DE: While Marcello plays in the striker's position he is really good at bringing other players into the game (He has eight assists this season). We also have some quality players in the wing and attacking midfield positions who are capable of scoring goals when the chances come.

RW: Prediction?

DE: I’ll go with a 2-1 Jeju win. We aren’t in the best run of form at the moment, but I think our attack will just about offer too much for your defense to handle.


  1. Nice prediction Duncan Elder, total homer pick considering your team sucks right now and they're crap on the road and we just got a new solid defender to shut your strikers up. I'd be surprised if Jeju even gets a shot off.

    Good thing Ryan hasn't pick a correct old school line all year.

    Easy 2-0 Dragons.... 2 bottles of soju for the loser!

  2. Look Who's Back anonymous. Criticizing both writers for their predictions. The person who is so wrong about the dragons last time. You are such an idiot and don't know anything about football.

    What the hell does old school line mean anyways?

    Sounds like you've already drank two bottles of Soju if you think the dragons will win.

    Just because they signed two new scrubs to their already pathetic team you think they're going to be a little better, still have the same shite coach

    1. First off, thanks for these weekly posts, very informative but at times can sound bias. Your taking the stats at face value for example you say they have only 5 goals in last 5 home goals and shut out in 2 games. As a reader I'd automatically think Jeonnam has no chance, but what your not including 1 shut out was to Seongnam who has scored 20 goals in away games the most in the league so to hold such a team to 1 goal is a feat that should be mentioned. Prior to the loss they did beat late surging Incheon 1-0 who managed to beat JeJu 2-1 in their previous match only 5 days ago. Then the game prior to Incheon they beat a 3rd place Ulsan 3-1. If I had to predict this game it would end 2-1 but Jeonnam led by 2 goals from both new transfers.

    2. A few things for you, Prince:
      1. Thanks for reading regularly.
      2. Congrats on the spot on score line.
      3. Your logic about Seongnam doesn't really hold up. Bringing up the Dragons admittedly good job of holding them to a single goal doesn't speak to the idea that the Dragons would score goals of their own.

    3. Well that sucked I just wrote an reply and somehow I lost it..I'm just a handicapper from Florida that's been following all season, some exciting games to watch after they end I'm unable to find a Live. Look for Pohang to cause some trouble today they have the momeentum and being the last J-league team to beat them at home creates a good story line. Enjoy the game!

    4. o and yes I totally agree the Dragons had their chance to come away it at least a point and perhaps the W


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