‘Uh-uh-uh?’ Seoul, Jeju and Pohang in second place, ‘duty to chase’, remember Man City
Ulsan Hyundai’s dominance is unstoppable. After 14 rounds of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023, the team is on a record-breaking pace with 12 wins, one draw and one loss스포츠토토 (37 points). There is a 13-point gap between them and second-placed FC Seoul, Jeju, and Pohang (24 points). They have the same number of points as the second-placed team and the relegation zone, 11th-placed Gangwon (11 points). It’s a ‘best of 12’ situation.
Ulsan could reach the 100-point plateau if they maintain their current average of 2.64 points per game. They could even break Jeonbuk’s 2018 record for the shortest amount of time to clinch the title (32 rounds).
While everyone was applauding Ulsan, the championship race that was supposed to be hotting up has cooled off in the opening three months. The blame lies not with Ulsan, but with the ‘top two’. The 24 points of the top three teams this season is not far off the average of 26.3 points for the second-placed teams after 14 rounds since the split system was introduced. They are performing as well as they would in any other season.
But “average” is not enough. In 2019, Jeonbuk finished with 30 points in round 14, paralleling leaders Ulsan. In 2020, Jeonbuk finished the 14th round with 32 points, just three points behind Ulsan. It was the second consecutive season that Jeonbuk came from behind to win the title.
While it is true that Ulsan 2023 is better than Ulsan 2019 and Ulsan 2020, the second-placed teams had a chance to close the gap. Second-placed Seoul and third-placed Jeju had four losses each after 14 games. Pohang lost only twice but drew six times. Seoul lost both times to Ulsan, while Jeju bowed down in front of Ulsan. Only Pohang earned a point against Ulsan.
To close the gap, they can’t hope for Ulsan to slip up. They need to seize the opportunity to close the gap and take the six-point head-to-head with Ulsan. It’s worth remembering that City have led Arsenal for a whopping 248 days this season, only for the Gunners to come from behind and win 12 straight games since the end of February.
This weekend, they will try to catch up once again. Seoul, which hasn’t won in two consecutive games, hosts Gangwon in Round 15 on the 28th. Jeju and Pohang will host Suwon (27th) and Jeonbuk (29th) respectively. Ulsan hosts Daejeon Hana on the 28th.