The Thai League relegation battle looks like it will go down to the wire, and two sides in particular are under pressure after last weekend’s results.
Both Sukhothai and Suphanburi were left looking nervously over their shoulder by the end of Sunday evening, as the weekend’s proceedings threatened to boil the relegation battle down to a two-horse race. The Fire Bats lost 3-2 to Samut Prakan City despite levelling twice, while their counterparts suffered a 3-1 defeat against Police Tero – their 11th loss in 13 games.
Both sides are already four points astray of 12th-placed Prachuap, who have what looks like a highly winnable fixture away against Rayong FC. Even though they were held to a draw in the reverse fixture last November, the side will be buoyed by their 1-0 win over Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday which helped them climb five points clear of the relegation zone. Another win for the Killer Wasps could leave Sukhothai and Suphanburi increasingly isolated in their fight to avoid the drop, and they will need to turn things around quickly to escape this incredibly precarious position.
Unfortunately for them, that looks like an exceptionally hard task this week. A trip to Buriram United awaits Sukhothai, while the Elephants will be visited by Port FC. The two sit neck-and-neck in the race for second place on 48 points, and both will be eager to win after being held to draws over the last weekend. It would come as a major upset if either were to pick up any points on Wednesday.
SwatCats Look to Spring Another Surprise
After taking all three points from a tight and tense game against Bangkok United last week, Nakhon Ratchasima suffered a 1-0 away defeat at the Sam Ao Stadium on Saturday evening. However, that was only the side’s second loss in 12 games, and confidence likely remains high in the camp. They will be looking to take another big scalp when they host Muangthong United at the 80th Birthday Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Kirin also come into the match with a point to prove. They fought back despite going behind twice against Buriram United and managed to come away with a respectable point all things considered. However, coach Mario Gjurovski’s post-game antics made it clear that while such a result may have been quietly lauded by some at the club in previous years, the side has no intention of resting on their laurels.
Defender Lucas Rocha is out for the visitors after sustaining an injury against Buriram, while Derley returns from a yellow card suspension. For the hosts, Jesse Curran will be ineligible to face his parent club, but they should otherwise have a full complement of players as they did at the weekend.
Samut Prakan Eye Fourth Spot
It has been a volatile few weeks for Samut Prakan City. The side looked incredible when they came back from two goals down to beat Muangthong 4-2, and similarly so when they netted four without reply against Prachuap. However, sandwiched between those results was a crushing 6-0 defeat to BG Pathum, the biggest hammering any team has received this season.
Despite their inconsistency and limited squad depth, Masatada Ishii’s men sit level with fourth place on 41 points, and remain the league’s second highest scorers. They host a Ratchaburi side which have only won two of their nine games since the restart, but will be on a high after receiving a lucky break through to the group stage of this years’ AFC Champions League. The Dragons comfortably outplayed their upcoming hosts in the reverse fixture, and this game looks very difficult to call.
Elsewhere in the top four race, Bangkok United will be expecting to take all three points when they host Trat, and Chiangrai will be hoping for the same despite the stern test posed by a resurgent Police Tero side which have won three of their last four games.
Chonburi to Blemish BG’s Unbeaten Record?
With the title officially theirs, BG Pathum United face a dilemma; rest and rotate to ride out the busy fixture schedule and maintain peak fitness for the AFC Champions League, or go all-out to retain their unbeaten status and push for even more records? The comments made by assistant coach Supachai Konsilp after the Rabbits’ 0-0 draw with Chiangrai certainly suggest that the side will be playing it safe and adopting the former approach.
Chonburi FC will hope to be the first beneficiaries of BG’s new plans. They managed to hold on for an impressive 0-0 draw against Ratchaburi at the Mitr Phol Stadium, and have a fairly decent record at home against the newly crowned champions. Any points won from this fixture would make their place in the league far more secure, and Sasom Pobprasert has shown a capacity of attacking and enterprising football in recent weeks. BG will likely be favourites even with a hint of rotation, but it would be unwise to rule out a potential upset.