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Star Performance – Lee Chung-yong

Posted by Seamus Walsh on March 8, 2010

This is the first in a series of posts which will review the outstanding performance of one Korean player for their club. This week it’s Lee Chung-yong for his performance for Bolton Wanderers against West Ham on Saturday (March 6). Match highlights:

Bolton won 2-1, with Lee setting up the first goal with a superb pinpoint cross for Kevin Davies to head in. It seems that Lee has really added another dimension to Bolton’s play since he joined in August. When Gary Megson first signed Lee (Megson has since been replaced by Owen Coyle), he stated “It is going to be a big challenge for him because he is coming to a new country and a new culture… It will take time for him to settle but we will be making sure that he is fully supported as he makes that transition.” Well, the Premier is certainly a challenge, as anyone will admit, but Lee seems to coping fantastically well. I have to say, I’m quite surprised at how well he’s done. Contrary to Megson’s belief, it doesn’t seem to have taken him long at all to settle in a footballing sense, as he’s already scored five goals and is playing as well as anyone in the Bolton team.

Lee Chung-yong signing for Bolton

My view is that if this is how he starts, he can surely only get better. In fact, one Bolton fan on this BBC comment board remarked that he believed Lee “will go to a big club unfortunatly but I want players like him to do well, watch out for him in the World Cup.” I think it might be slightly premature to say he’ll be off to a bigger club, because there’s still the chance that homesickness, culture shock and so on will hit him later on, and he may have a bit of a dip in form which can be tough on any young player. But one thing’s for sure, his performances so far this season have absolutely proved that he has the talent and the potential to go very far.

In terms of what he brings to Bolton, they’ve lacked pace and width in attack this season, playing generally quite unattractive and ‘boring’ football. With Lee and new loan signing Jack Wilshire playing on the wings, Bolton now have an alternative plan of attack, which is much better suited to the swift passing game Coyle likes to use. As another fan commented here, “Lee and Wilshere are pure class, they just make things happen for us.” No longer do Bolton rely on hitting the ball up to Davies as early as possible, they now try and pass it through the midfield, where the tireless running of Muamba and Davies create space out wide for Lee especially to provide forward momentum.

Lee Chung-yong celebrates Kevin Davies' goal against West Ham which he set up

Lee celebrating Davies' goal which he set up

On Saturday this was particularly evident, with Lee providing the cross for the first goal and Wilshire scoring the second. Lee found himself in space out wide on the right plenty of times. His dribbling was excellent, attacking the West Ham defense at pace and forcing them to turn around. In doing so, he also drew a number of fouls, winning free kicks for his team in good positions. He also delivered a number of good crosses, and in reality Bolton probably should have scored a couple more. Lee himself had a good shot that just went wide of the post.

I hope Bolton continue this style of play, it seems to suit them well, and Lee especially. If he continues to play like this he should get a few more goals and assists this season. Most important of all, it bodes well for South Korea’s World Cup ambitions. All of the teams in their group have shown in recent months that they can be vulnerable against teams who pass well and attack with pace down the wings, looking to get behind the defense. Both Park Ji-sung and Lee are great at this style of wing play, and Ki Sung-yeung in the centre will provide plenty of great passes for them to run onto and attack with. Things are looking up for Lee Chung-yong and for South Korean football!

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One Response to “Star Performance – Lee Chung-yong”

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