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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Ulsan Hyundai

The Suwon Bluewings will host table-toppers Ulsan Hyundai on Saturday evening when they face-off for the 2nd time in the 2019 K League 1. Ulsan come into this off the back of an amazing win against Jeonbuk and will surely feel they need three points in this game to fully cement their title challenge. Suwon, meanwhile, won back-to-back games for the first time this season this week and will be in good spirits after dispatching a then unbeaten Gwangju FC in the FA Cup, in midweek. 

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 3-0 Gwangju FC
The Suwon Bluewings booked their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup by easily overcoming a second string Gwangju FC. Suwon dominated the early stages and had already had a couple of good goalscoring opportunities before they finally took the lead in the 42nd minute. Han Eui-kwon found his way to the byline and his clever cut back was met by Shin Se-gye. The full back finished with all the confidence of a striker, smashing the ball high into the roof of the net.

Suwon continued to attack and doubled their lead just after the restart with a breathtaking goal from Elvis Sarić. Adam Taggart provided a marvelous assist, delightfully flicking a pass with the outside of his boot and Sarić drove home a 25-yard shot into the top right-hand corner.

Adam Taggart limped off with a muscle injury in the 70th minute and having already made all their substitutions, Suwon had to play the final twenty minutes of the game with only ten men. But, it didn't change to course of the game and Suwon were even able to score a third in the 86th minute. Another fine pass from midfield by Sarić found Han Eui-kwon through on goal and although the goalkeeper saved his initial effort, the winger was on hand to turn home the rebound.

Full match replay can be found here. 

Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai 
Ulsan reasserted their title credentials with a fine win over reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai last Sunday evening. A pulsating first half saw both teams go for the jugular, but neither could take the opportunities that came away. Chiefly, Junior, Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Dong-gook spurned the best chances of an entertaining first half.

However, Ulsan took a deserved lead in the 60th minute after Kim In-sung latched onto a fine Kim Bo-kyung through pass. The winger fired an early, low shot which caught Song Bum-keun off guard to put Ulsan one goal up.

As the game opened up in the second half there were chances at both ends but it was Ulsan who doubled their lead late in the game. Lopes, who had been having a running battle with Kim Tae-hwan for much of the game, brought the full-back down in the penalty area and after consulting VAR the referee awarded a penalty kick. Kim Bo-kyung stepped up to score against his former team and put Ulsan in an almost un-catchable position.

Jeonbuk did manage to at least get on the scoresheet though when a beautifully lofted Kim Jin-su cross was headed in by substitute Lee Seung-gi. Jeonbuk tried desperately to get an equaliser but it wasn't to be, and Ulsan got the vital win to return to the top of the league.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

These two last met on the opening day of the season when Ulsan ran out winners by two goals to one. Goals from Junior and Kim In-sung did for Suwon that day and it has been Ulsan who have had the upper hand in recent fixtures too. Ulsan have won eight of the last sixteen fixtures between the two, whilst Suwon have only had three wins in the same period. Even worse for Suwon, since the beginning of the 2016 season they have only beaten Ulsan on home soil twice.

The overall head to head though still remains quite even and Suwon have 19 total wins, which isn't too far away from Ulsan's 22 total wins in this fixture.

Team News

Adam Taggart is a huge doubt for this game after sustaining a muscle injury in the FA Cup, in midweek. Suwon's top goalscorer had initially been rested for the visit of Gwangju but was substituted on at half-time despite the team already being one-nil up, a decision that Lee Lim-saeng may now come to regret. Centre-back, Jo Sung-jin, also remains sidelined and won't be available for the match against the Horangi. However, Ulsan's star man, Kim Bo-kyung, will also be unavailable after having picked up three yellow cards.

Lee Lim-saeng had an opportunity to give some significant rest to his two veteran players, Yeom Ki-hun and Dejan Damjanović in midweek and both should feature from the start against Ulsan. Han Eui-kwon's performance against Gwangju may mean that he will get the nod to replace Taggart in the starting line-up and the manager will hope that he can replicate the goal and assist that he got in midweek.

Jeon Se-jin is still away with the U-20 national team so Lee will have to chose a new player who can meet the U-22 player quota. The likes of Kim Min-ho, Kim Tae-hwan, Park Dae-won, Song Jin-kyu, Yoo Ju-an and Oh Hyun-gyu have all had game time this season and any of them could come in and feature as Suwon's young player.

The Adversary

Ulsan make the trip north on a high, having reclaimed top spot with that excellent Hyundai Derby win at Munsu last weekend. But manager Kim Do-hoon will be quick to point out that his team needs to keep their concentration if they are going to sustain their title challenge. That means the Horangi need to go to places like the Big Bird and bring home a win, no matter the quality of their performance or the ability of the opposition. Ulsan's away form was their undoing last season when they recorded just five wins in nineteen, compared to Jeonbuk's thirteen. Things are going slightly better this time round with two wins from five on the road, but the manager knows that his side cannot continue to put in good performances away from home without taking maximum points.

With that in mind, Kim will be picking his strongest available team for Saturday, despite the fact the Horangi travel to Shanghai midweek for the last match of the ACL Group Stages. Ulsan have no need to get a result from that match as their consistently solid displays in Asia's continental competition have already guaranteed them qualification at the top of their group. So Kim is bound to throw all he can at the Bluewings and send a weakened squad across the Yellow Sea next Tuesday.

One player who won't be on the pitch this Saturday is influential midfielder Kim Bo-kyung. The ex-Cardiff man put in another superb shift last weekend but was given his third yellow card of the season, meaning he is suspended for this tie. It will be a real loss for Ulsan as Kim is currently joint top playmaker in the league with four assists. Youngster Lee Dong-gyeong is most likely to fill in in that creative midfield role, but Shin Jin-ho and Kim In-sung are also in line to start. Central defender Yun Young-sun will return to the back four after serving a one-match ban, but Dave Bulthuis and Hwang Il-soo are still absent through injury.

Who To Watch

Ulsan winger Kim In-sung has begun the season on fire and is currently the joint-leading scorer in the league with five goals. He has already scored the same amount of goals and provided the same amount of assists as he did in the entirety of last season, and Kim looks to be going from strength to strength.

The winger's pace and trickery has been a constant thorn in the side of the opposition and his battle down the left-wing against Shin Se-gye could be where either team win or lose this game.

Prediction

Suwon's best centre-back, Jo Sung-jin, has been missing for the last five fixtures and although Suwon have not conceded many goals in his absence they have looked more fragile at the back. Lee Lim-saeng has opted to pair Koo Ja-ryoung with two full-backs over that period and it's fair to say that Yang Sang-min and Park Hyung-jin don't look entirely comfortable in their current positions. Park, in particular, has had a torrid time only winning 13 of his 44 duels over the last three league games. The emergency centre-back is lucky that he has recently come up against some of the lesser attacks in Korea, but against Ulsan he is sure to face a bombardment. If Ulsan are able to utilise the likes of Junior, Kim In-sung, Mix Diskerud and Kim Tae-hwan well then they will hope that they could put Suwon's makeshift back-line to the sword.

Suwon Bluewings 1-3 Ulsan Hyundai

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