Hwang Hee-chan, who is in his third season with Wolverhampton in the English Premier League, will be on the bench for the second match of the new season. It remains to be seen if the Japanese ace will be able to start against opposing winger Kaoru Mitoma.
Hwang has been named on the substitutes’ bench for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ home game against Brighton & Hove Albion in the second round of the 2023/24 Premier League at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, at 11 p.m. on Sept. 19. Hwang came on as a 23rd-minute substitute in the season opener against United at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sept. 15, but had to watch the Red Devils lose 1-0 after a goal from home defender Rafael Varane after his introduction.
Garry O’Neill, who took over from Julen Lopetegui shortly before the start of the season, is expected to keep Hwang on the bench for now and see how he fares later.
Nelson Semedo, Max Kilman, Craig Dawson, and Layan Ayew-Nuri make up the back four for Wolverhampton, with Jose Sa in goal. João Gomes, Mario Lemigna, and Mateusz Núñez make up the midfield. Fabio Silva, Mateus Cunha, and João Neto will attack up front.
For Hwang, it’s a chance to improve his position in the team early on after an uncertain start under O’Neill. After joining Wolverhampton from Leipzig in Germany in the 2021/22 season, Hwang made 30 Premier League appearances in his first season on loan, scoring five goals in 20 of those starts. Last season, however, he had an up-and-down campaign that included two stints on the sidelines with a thigh injury, but he still managed to score three goals in 27 appearances. Of those 27 games, he started just 12.
However, Lopetegui, who took over the reins in November last year, recognized Hwang’s talent when he watched him score the winning goal against Portugal in the third group game of the World Cup in Qatar, so he was able to play 27 games amid repeated injuries and rehabilitation.
However, with O’Neill’s recent arrival, Hwang has had to fight his way back into the side. Against Brighton, he will need to break through somehow with a goal or an assist to prove himself worthy of a starting spot.
Japanese winger Mitoma, on the other hand, starts as expected.
Brighton manager Roberto De Jervi has named a back four of Peris Estupinan, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and James Milner, with Jason Steele in goal. Billy Gilmour and Pascal Gross formed a double volante, while Mitoma, Julio Cesar Enciso, and Solly March formed the second line of attack. Up top is Danny Welbeck.
Mitoma, who scored seven goals in 33 Premier League games last season, scored his first offensive point of the season in the opening home game against promoted Luton Town on Sept. 12, assisting on March’s 36th-minute opener and contributing to the team’s emphatic victory. Mitoma was once linked with a move to Manchester City, where he made a European treble last season, but he has since re-signed with Brighton and is reportedly focused on preparing for this season’s UEFA Europa League.
Both Hwang and Mitoma have a style that focuses on attacking points through flashy dribbling and wide movements, so when they’re on the field together, it’s a direct comparison. Hwang Hee-chan also played in a preseason friendly against French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes at the Molineux Stadium on May 5, albeit in an unofficial match, when he came on for Neto at left winger at the start of the second half and scored the game-winning goal in the 22nd minute with his side leading 2-1 to seal a two-goal victory.
That makes Hwang Hee-chan among the scorers in the most recent match at the Molineux stadium. If his performance two weeks ago is anything to go by, he could become the first Korean player to score in the Premier League against Brighton.
Mitoma also has fond memories of the Molineux stadium. He scored his first Premier League goal against Wolverhampton on Nov. 5 last year, tearing 토토 through the opposition defense. Mitoma was only a rotation player at the time, but that game propelled him into the starting lineup.
The two teams met last season, with Brighton winning both games.
The Seagulls came from two goals down after Adam Lallana’s opener to win 3-2 away on November 5 last year, thanks to Mitoma’s equalizer and Gross’s late winner. At home on April 29, Gross, Welbeck and Denis Undaub struck twice as promised to seal a 6-0 victory.