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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Suwon Bluewings

The Suwon Bluewings will hope to make it three games unbeaten on Sunday afternoon when they travel to face Gangwon FC in Round 6 of the 2019 K League 1. Coming up against one of the meanest defences in the league will be not be easy, but with the likes of Yeom Ki-hun and Adam Taggart in fine form the Bluewings will travel with a little faith that they can continue their unbeaten run. 

Last Time Out

Suwon failed to build upon their first win of the season but were able to pick up a point, as they and Sangju Sangmu battled their way to a 0-0 draw in midweek. In a game of not many clear cut chances, Suwon had the best opportunity in the first half when a stray ball was dropped by Sangju's goalkeeper, Yoon Bo-sang. The loose ball fell to Adam Taggart, but the Bluewings striker's shot was well cleared by Kim Kyeong-jae, sparing his 'keeper's blushes.

Yeom Ki-hun entered the action at half-time and he was immediately in the thick of things when his 30 yard effort, from a free-kick, was just tipped over the bar in the 49th minute. Sangju were later reduced to ten men when a high challenge from Kim Young-bin caught Yeom Ki-hun in the face. The Sangju man was justly shown a straight red card for the dangerous tackle.

The Bluewings tried to put the pressure on Sangju in the closing stages of the game but the away team did well to keep them out and both teams headed home with a point in hand.

Full highlights can be found here. 

Gangwon's mini-renaissance was ended by Pohang on Wednesday night, with the home team triumphing by a goal to nil.

After a tense opening 30 minutes, Gangwon thought they had taken the lead through a spectacular Oh Beom-seok overhead kick. However, replays revealed that the midfielder had been standing in an offside position when the ball was flicked onto him, off the head of Uroš Đerić, and the referee disallowed the goal with help from the VAR.

Pohang took the lead 6 minutes later when a beautiful one-touch pass found Song Min-kyu in space behind the Gangwon backline and the forward made no mistake, steering his shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the goal.

Gangwon fought back well in the second half and could have found an equaliser in the 36th minute. Jung Jo-gook, who had recently been substituted on, picked up the ball on the right hand side of the box and after beating a couple of players bent a shot just inches wide of the post.

Gangwon then thought they had won the a penalty in the dying minutes of the game only to be thwarted by VAR, once again. After feeling some contact in the penalty area Jung Jo-gook fell to the floor and the referee pointed to the spot with only one minute of normal time remaining. But television replays showed that any contact was minimal and the referee, once more, reversed his decision.

Pohang were able to see out injury time with no incidents and picked up a valuable three points.

Full highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

There haven't been too many matches between these two sides as they have spent much of their histories in different leagues, but of those 18 games played previously the Suwon Bluewings have just had the edge over Gangwon FC. The Bluewings have 11 wins, compared to Gangwon's 4.

The two have played out some entertaining games over the years with the last draw coming back in 2017, 5 fixtures ago. The Bluewings had the better of Gangwon in 2018, winning two games to Gangwon's one, with the most entertaining fixture a 3-2 away win for Suwon. The Bluewings came from behind to win it courtesy of an injury time Yeom Ki-hun goal.


Team News

After a few hectic weeks at the helm it appears that things have calmed down a little now for Suwon manager Lee Lim-saeng. He was able to name a settled line-up for the Sangju game, only making two changes to the previous line-up, both of which were enforced. Jeon Se-jin and Yeom Ki-hun both dropped to the bench in midweek but it is expected that they will return to the starting line-up for the trip to Gangwon. Lee changed formations to a 3-4-3 on Wednesday night, to accommodate young centre-back Kim Min-ho, but may change back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that worked so well against Incheon United.

Elvis Sarić is still sidelined due to a lack of match fitness and it is still unknown when he will return to the team. Fellow midfield man, Lee Jong-sung also remains sidelined and is yet to feature in 2019. Other than those two, Lee Lim-saeng will have a full compliment of players to chose from as he seeks to continue Suwon's unbeaten run.

The Adversary

Victories over Jeonbuk and Seongnam, and a creditable draw against Ulsan had Gangwon flying high over recent weeks. But they were brought back down to earth with a bump with that loss to struggling Pohang in midweek.

Last season Gangwon's downfall was their leaky defence but manager Kim Byung-soo has completely turned that around and Gangwon currently have the 3rd best defensive unit in the league,  having only conceded 4 goals from their 5 matches played. Key to that defense, Oh Beom-seok's performances in the defensive midfield role have been outstanding this season. The former Suwon Bluewings star has shielded the defence well and his 41 successful defensive duels is the 10th best in the league.

However, although Gangwon have improved that porous defence they have had to sacrifice the free flowing attack of 2018. Averaging only 10 shots a game, 4 and half shots on target per game, and with only 3 goals to their name they have the joint worst attack in the league. Add to that, the struggles of Uroš Đerić continue to hold Gangwon back, in an attacking sense. The forward is yet to get off the mark in 2019 and although he has only played 172 minutes of football after returning from an injury, his stats do not make for happy reading. Đerić has only managed 3 shots over those minutes, has only won 43% of his duels and, disappointingly, has an expected goals rating of 0.6. Gangwon fans will be hoping that the Serbian can get back to full fitness soon or that attack may become more of a serious problem.

Who To Watch

2018 wasn't a vintage year for Yeom Ki-hun but he is certainly making amends for some disappointing performances last season with some impressive play early this year. With 2 goals and 1 assist, Yeom is producing some early moments of class.

One of the aspects of his game that Yeom has improved upon this year is being a little more direct with the ball and his passing and creation has been vital to Suwon's attack. His 48 passes into the final third, with an 85% accuracy rate, is the 5th best in the league. The veteran has an expected goals and assists rate of 2.57 and is leading the way in this Suwon team.

Prediction

Suwon may have embarrassed themselves during the first few weeks of the season but they have shown a vast improvement over the last two rounds. They still aren't the finished article but their goal threat and sensible approach to their last two games makes them a more threatening prospect for their opponents. Meanwhile, Gangwon's over cautious approach might mean that goalscoring opportunities are at a premium in this game. If that's the case then you would expect Suwon's attack to have more joy at converting those chances.

Gangwon FC 0-1 Suwon Bluewings

K League 1 Round 6 Preview: here

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