Matchday five of the Thai League promises to be another exciting and consequential weekend.
Port-Muangthong Derby Headlines Weekend Action
Regardless of where they sit on the table, derby clashes between Port FC and Muangthong United are always eye-catching fixtures. Both sides are on five points coming into this match, but the Kirin have played one less game than their rivals.
Port are yet to find their feet under head coach Dusit Chalermsan, conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game, compared to his 0.43 tally with BG Pathum United last season. Their 2-1 defeat last week against Suphanburi showed that the side still struggle with game management and holding on to leads, something which the coach was explicitly brought in to help with.
Similarly, Mario Gjurovski is yet to find his best starting lineup this season, with the lack of a defensive midfielder throwing the side off balance. Willian Popp has been the team’s standout performer so far, while Lucas Rocha and Chatchai Saengdao have established themselves as the preferred pairing in defence. However, the 6 goals conceded in just 3 games should ring alarm bells.
Port are still the favourites in this encounter, but will be without the raucous crowd at the PAT Stadium giving them an added boost. Both sides are a lot stronger offensively than defensively, and both will likely be in the hunt for all three points, so another high-scoring clash could be on the cards.
Sharks Aim to Continue Excellent Run against Chiangrai
Chonburi climbed to the top of the Thai League table last weekend after putting seven goals past Khon Kaen United in the Thai League’s biggest win since June 2017. Three goals from Worachit Kanitsribampen and four from Dennis Murillo rounded off a truly captivating display from the Sharks. Coach Sasom has succeeded in integrating all four of his squad’s exciting attacking talents into one lineup, with their overall work ethic balancing out the squad and making them a truly formidable force.
By contrast, their opponents Chiangrai United have had a disappointing the lethargic start to the new Thai League season. With four consecutive home games and off the back of an impressive ACL showing, many expected the Beetles would have more points than the five they have collected so far.
Unlike last season, most of Chiangrai’s opponents have sat back and forced the side to become more proactive in possession, something which they have struggled to adapt to. The defensive solidity that has defined their play for most of the last five years has also been absent, as they let a lead slip against Prachuap last week in a shock 2-1 defeat. The Beetles will likely return to the basics and aim to frustrate their opponents on Friday.
So far, Chonburi have faced two of last seasons’ top-half teams and held them both to draws. However, since then, the squad has found its rhythm, settled on a preferred lineup, and built more positive momentum. A win in this match will be a huge statement of intent from the side which has often struggled to beat the teams above them in the past, and demonstrate that they are a force to be reckoned with this year.
Nongbua look to impress with Police visit
The Gamecocks were out of action last week, and were able to watch the turmoil going on at their fellow promoted clubs from afar. Khon Kaen United were on the end of that aforementioned demolition by Chonburi, while Chiangmai United remain rooted to the bottom of the table and missed a huge chance to pick up their first win of the season amid growing pressure on head coach Surapong Kongthep. Both of these sides face tough trips to the capital this weekend, with the King Cobras taking on BG Pathum United while the White Elephants face Samut Prakan City.
By contrast, Nongbua appear to be a more settled and solid side than their fellow newcomers at first glance. They looked good value for their win over Nakhon Ratchasima on the opening day, and the pair of defeats since have come against the league’s current top two.
However, the true test of their credentials will take place this Saturday, when they welcome Police Tero to the Pitchaya Stadium. It is a game that they will be expected to win, and could have huge significance in the broader fight for survival this season. It may be an unglamorous fixture, but it will tell us a lot about where Nongbua stand in the top flight.
Elsewhere, Suphanburi have emerged as one of the league’s surprise packages thus far, going unbeaten in their first four games. They travel to face a Korat side who are slowly building a momentum of their own after opening the campaign with two defeats.
Prachuap have an excellent result to build on from last weekend, coming from behind to beat Chiangrai. They will be hoping to spring a surprise in their first game at the Sam Ao Stadium this season, as they welcome heavy favourites Buriram United.
Lastly, Bangkok United ended a seven-year streak of failure against Buriram in a hugely significant win last weekend. Following that up with a win at Ratchaburi’s Mitr Phol Stadium would surely send a message to the rest of the division.