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Writers' Chat Preview: Incheon United vs. Jeju United

Incheon United have only returned one point from their first couple of fixtures, whilst Jeju United have gone one point better with two draws from their first two games. During the week, Incheon United writer Luke and Jeju United correspondent Charlie sat down to discuss this weekend’s Hana 1Q K League 1 Round 3 fixture and talk about what happened in the first two games of the season for their respective clubs. 

Luke: So, to kick off, how have the first two games been for Jeju?


Charlie:  From a defensive perspective, I can’t complain. We’ve been very compact and not panicked too much under pressure. Despite it only being two games in, to only concede one goal is pretty good. But the issues are in the final third. Our new signing, Yuri, has looked like a passenger in the first two games. Granted, he got himself an assist against Daegu, but overall, on the ball and off the ball, he hasn’t been great.


Charlie: In terms of positives, what has impressed you the most, that you may not have expected pre-season?


Luke: I think that Paul-José M’Poku has shown glimpses of being very dangerous going forward. He looks to be pretty confident on the ball and I think once he settles and gets a bit more time under his belt, he’s going to be a good signing. He got his first goal last weekend and seems to be building a good relationship with Gerso and Hernandes on and off the field.

[READ: M'Poku speaks to KLU post-Daejeon] 

I’ve been very impressed with Lee Myoung-joo, too. We all saw how good he was last year, but he’s hit the ground running again this season and has arguably been the Man of the Match for Incheon in the first two games.


Luke: Which Jeju players have impressed you so far in the opening few rounds?


Charlie:  I have been very impressed by Seo Jin-su. In my Jeju season preview, I mentioned him as a player to keep an eye on. On the ball, he is technically gifted, he isn’t scared of running at defenders and when he does, he can glide past with his speed, skill and strength. I personally believe he should start over Yuri on Sunday.


Charlie: Gerso was such an important player for us last season, what do you make of his on-field impact so far?


Luke: He’s a very good player and we’ve seen glimpses of that again in the first two games. Unfortunately, he’s struggled for service as our two central midfielders have been pretty defensive in the opening games and we’re missing a link up player. We lost Aguilar over the close season, and I think his influence would have helped the front three a lot had he stayed. I’m hoping that in the coming games Gerso can get on the score sheet, and I think after he does the goals will come regularly.


Luke: What has worked well for Jeju and got you looking to see more of?


Charlie: I am a fan of our possession-based attacks. Our build up play is incredible, we get a lot of players on the ball, increasing our options, but as previously mentioned, we lack that deadly finisher up top. Maybe Yuri will just take time to adjust before coming good, but he has to do so now, otherwise it could be a disappointing season for us.


Luke: Is there anything else that you think needs improving?


Charlie: Under pressure in the middle third, we seem to launch the ball forward to either Yuri, or over the opposition fullbacks for our wingers to latch onto. It hasn’t worked once, it seems desperate and I’m sure it’s not how Nam Ki-il would prefer his team to play. We have the ability on the ball to be press resistant. So ideally, I would like us to pass the ball out of defence more often. Mainly because Yuri’s hold up play has been poor, and our ball retention when he’s in possession has also been a hindrance to attacks.

[Listen: #KLUPod: An Early Assessment]

Luke: What are you expecting from the Incheon-Jeju game?


Charlie:  We have the worst defence in the league, Incheon, hosting one of the worst attacks in the league, Jeju. Incheon look very strong going forward, and I expect them to get goals. Hopefully Gerso doesn’t play well as he could really hurt us on the break. But Incheon’s defence seem to lack concentration and awareness in the closing 10 or so minutes. Will we be able to capitalise? I’m not sure, but unfortunately, I don’t believe we have the right amount of firepower going forward to put the Incheon defence under too much pressure.


Charlie: Incheon have one of the best-attacking records in the league, yet also the worst defensive record. Despite it being only two games in, are you at all concerned about the defence and the goals you’re conceding?


Luke: I’m pretty concerned about the goalkeeping situation at Incheon. Kim Dong-heon was excellent for Incheon last year, and was described by some people as one of the best goalkeepers in the league – and his stats last season supported that. However, this year he seems to have made a couple of mistakes, cost Incheon a couple of goals and his confidence seems to have taken a hit.


Charlie: What would you do to overcome it?


Luke: I’m not sure if it might be a good idea to take him out of the firing line for a little while and give Lee Tae-hee a few games. But also, we’ve also lost a lot of experience at the back over the winter with a number of older defenders either retiring or moving on. I do think the backline as a whole is still generally strong, however I think we perhaps need to go back to basics when we’re under the cosh and just get the ball up field. We’re very fast going forward, so why risk all the short passes at the back when we’re not doing very well?


Luke: And finally, what do you think the result will be this weekend?


Charlie:  As much as it pains me to say, I will go for a 2-1 victory for Incheon. Incheon’s attacking threat is incredible to watch, and they will get goals, despite our strong defence. I have a feeling Jeju will lead 0-1 for a brief period of time, before two Incheon daggers to kill the game off.



Charlie: How about your prediction?


Luke: I think you might be right. A win for Incheon will eventually come, it’s just a case of everyone clicking. With the talent we have on the field, I’m still convinced we’re in for a good season, it’s just everyone is settling. I’m going to copy you, and go 2-1 Incheon.


This Sunday’s clash between Incheon and Jeju will be broadcast in Korea via Coupang Play and Sky Sports, and internationally online at tv.kleague.com.

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