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Can Gangwon retain their defensive solidarity against FC Seoul?

FC Seoul are hoping that their excellent fortunes will continue on Saturday, after Park Jin-sub’s men confidently took three points from the previously unbeaten Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Meanwhile, a newfound defensive solidarity is starting to pay dividends for Gangwon FC, who picked up their first win of the season, and second consecutive clean sheet, courtesy of a 2-0, ten-men triumph over Incheon United. Guest contributor Nathan Sartain previews Saturday's match.

Recent Form

FC Seoul come into the game on the back of three consecutive league victories, with the most noticeable scalp claimed that of Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Just like in their 2-1 win over Gwangju, Park’s side came from a goal down to claim the victory, with Park Jun-bin’s finish from less-than a yard out the culmination of a game full of endeavour. They will be hoping for an easier task against Gangwon, and praying that star player Ki Sung-yeung can continue his fine goalscoring form against a defence who are beginning to look increasingly difficult to break down.

On the other hand, Gangwon FC will be looking to build on their first three points of the season, with Kim Dong-hyun’s suspension being lifted an undoubted relief. Their success against Incheon was impressive, with Rustamjon Ashurmatov’s header giving Kim Byung-soo’s side a deserved lead in the 20th minute before a late Ko Moo-yeol penalty sealed the result. It moves Gangwon up to 10th, a position they’ll be hoping to improve on in the weeks to come.


Team News

Following a welcome break for the two sides after an intensive start to the season, rotation is unlikely to be on the menu for the managers as they look to build consistency.

FC Seoul, despite consistently favouring a 4-2-3-1 formation, have proved slightly difficult to predict in the lineup department. A fully fit, in-form Ki Sung-yeung should be the focal point of the midfield alongside Osmar, which would mean Han Chan-hee misses out again. Elsewhere, centre-back Hong Joon-ho is still yet to start a game since his arrival from Gwangju, with the 27-year-old likely to be limited to a substitute appearance again this weekend.

Gangwon, whilst looking improved with their preferred 3-4-3 formation, have been spared of a selection headache due to the suspension of Kim Dong-hyun being rescinded. Notably, Lee Bum-soo should retain his place in goal following two consecutive clean-sheets, whilst Goo Moo-yol may well find himself back in the starting eleven after an impressive substitute appearance last time out which was capped off with a penalty goal. However, the game may come too quickly for new loan signing Kim Jung-min, who has been plying his trade for the Vitória de Guimarães B team since the turn of the year.

Head-to-head

The two sides fought in an evenly contested 1-1 draw back in October, with goals from Park Chu-young and Ko Moo-yeol ensuring that neither side went home with all three points. But this isn’t the FC Seoul who stumbled into 9th place last season, and they will be looking to extend their home unbeaten run against Gangwon to six games with an emphatic victory.

What to Watch

Can Gangwon retain their defensive solidarity?


Despite shipping ten goals in their opening three games, Gangwon have managed to get their act together defensively in recent matches, conceding just once in their previous three. But whilst clean sheets against Seongnam and Incheon are impressive, Kim’s side have failed to contain FC Seoul in four consecutive games. Considering Ki Sung-yeung’s impressive spell in front of goal, this may be a task too tough for an improving back three.

Will Ki Sung-yeung continue to drive FC Seoul forward?


As if they weren’t already, all eyes will be on Ki Sung-yeung as he looks to potentially score in his fourth consecutive game. His goals have already won FC Seoul an encouraging four points this season, a fact all the more impressive when you realise that it has kept his side pushing towards the apex of the division. Together with Osmar, a midfield partnership centred around Ki’s dynamism could cause more than a few headaches for Gangwon and continue FC Seoul’s upward trajectory.

FNR

Who to Watch

Rustamjon Ashurmatov



One of the league’s better defenders last season, Rustamjon Ashurmatov is starting to look like a coup for Gangwon. Playing on the right side of the back three, Ashurmatov’s presence and competence has been one of the big factors in his team’s improved performances, and his effort was rewarded in his last fixture with a well-dispatched headed goal. If he can continue his good form it could go a long way in stunting an increasingly confident FC Seoul, something vital should Gangwon wish to come away with all the points.

Match Prediction

After an inconsistent opening trio of games, FC Seoul have stabilised and manifested themselves as a team well within their rights to battle near the top of the division. Despite Gangwon’s recent improvements, Park Jin-sub and his men should be able to comfortably ward off any challenge.
Prediction: FC Seoul 2-0 Gangwon FC


Nathan Sartain
K League United Guest Contributor 

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