2023 another big one for Koreans in Europe

With no K League or Asian Champions League action in the early weeks of 2023, it is understandable that the attention of most soccer fans is on Europe. It is also understandable that there is concern about the form of Son Heung-min. Last year was one of two halves for the player. In May, the Tottenham Hotspur forward was the toast of the English Premier League by finishing the season as joint top scorer and winning the golden boot. 안전놀이터

Since then, for whatever reason, he has not hit the same heights. He scored just three goals before the league paused in November for the 2022 World Cup and those all came in the same game, the second half against a struggling Leicester City team. Then there was the facial fracture suffered in the UEFA Champions League, which meant he had to wear a mask at the World Cup and, in truth, he had little impact on the tournament, though Korea did make it to the second round before losing 4-1 to Brazil.

It does not help that Tottenham has been up and down too. The team started well but has become increasingly inconsistent and has won two, lost two and drawn two of its last six league games and currently sits in fifth in the standings. The most recent game was a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace during which Son got on the scoresheet. It is to be hoped that this helps the 30-year-old get back to his former self.

“It felt amazing. It was about time,” a visibly relieved Son said. “To be honest, I felt really sorry for the team because I think they expected more than what I had been doing. So I think today could be a turning point to get back confidence and on the score sheet again. I want to continue to help the team.”

If he can score the winning goal against their bitter North London rival on Sunday, then Spurs fans will forgive anything. Arsenal has been on top of the standings all season and sits 11 points ahead of Tottenham and has played one game fewer. Lose, however, and frustration will grow.

Hwang Hee-chan would love to have such problems. The forward, who scored that famous last-minute goal against Portugal in December that sent Korea into the second round of the World Cup, has yet to find the net for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League.

Injuries have played a part; a hamstring problem limited his playing time at the World Cup too, and it has been a real stop-and-start campaign. Wolves have struggled at the bottom and sit next to bottom but have a new coach in Julen Lopetegui. The 56-year-old has been in charge of Spain, Porto and, the biggest club in the world, Real Madrid. Hwang needs to impress, and soon. Saturday’s home game against West Ham United, two places above in 17th, is a huge one. Win that and the Wanderers may climb out of the relegation zone. Lose and there are some very hard weeks ahead.

Kim Min-jae is doing better and the defender is still a regular starter for Italian league leader Napoli. There are links with clubs in England but at the moment, it may be better to stay in Italy and have a great chance to win a major European league title. That is not going to happen for Son this season but there is still plenty to play for.

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