Angels Eye Summit Ahead of Clash With Neighbours
After seeing off Ratchaburi in midweek, Bangkok United are level on points with league leaders Buriram heading into Matchday 9.
Totchtawan Sripan’s men have shown a penchant for the big games this season, often overloading the midfield with their physical presence choking off the opposition’s flow. The side are on the back of five consecutive wins, a run which started with a hugely significant victory over Buriram in late September. This match, a visit to their next-door neighbours and the defending champions, feels like a similar milestone; an encounter with a significance for squad morale which far exceeds three points.
Their opponents BG Pathum United have looked a different side since the return of veteran defender Andres Tunez, as they beat Muangthong and Suphanburi in their last two outings. They have put their shaky return from AFC Champions League action behind them, and are back in the top four with a game in hand over their rivals.
However, the Rabbits still appear to be crying out loud statement of intent, a declaration that they are ready to defend their crown. Their desperation on that front could be due to the fact that much of the upheaval they have faced this season has been self-inflicted.
The side let go of their title-winning coach and captain before the start of this season, and are set to reckon with the latter in this match. Thitipan Puangchan has arguably been Bangkok United’s standout player, the physical embodiment of the previously absent vigour and steel which which has characterised the Angels so far this season. It is easy to see why the remaining players and new coach feel the need to break that steel, and show that the club’s faith in them is warranted. The ‘Rangsit Derby’ has always been a compelling encounter, but never before has the fixture meant this much.
Suphanburi and Nongbua Aim to Stem Sliding Form
Suphanburi were one of just three unbeaten teams after the first four games of the season, but three losses and a draw since then have seen them slip into the relegation zone. They are now on seven points after seven matches, level with their upcoming opponents Nongbua in what is shaping up to be a match which neither can afford to lose.
The War Elephants will be eager to end their bad run of form and pick up their much-needed second win of the season. Meanwhile, Nongbua will be troubled by their 1-0 away defeat against Khon Kaen United last weekend, but can console themselves with the fact that the defeat came on their travels. However, a loss at home against a team which could turn out to be direct relegation rivals come the end of the season would certainly be a more troubling prospect.
This match is likely to be a tight and cagey affair, and could be won by the team which makes fewer mistakes.
Chiangrai to Bounce Back Against Khon Kaen?
Until last weekend, Chiangrai United were in the ascent, on the back of three consecutive wins and two points behind league leaders Buriram United. However, for the second time this season, they failed to score at home against ten-men, drawing a blank against Muangthong United despite creating a staggering 26 shooting opportunities. They were ultimately undone by a stoppage time winner from Willian Popp, which saw them drop to third as the gap between them and the leaders widened to five points.
On the other hand, Khon Kaen United picked up their second win of the season last weekend, once again courtesy of Ibson Melo. The Brazilian forward has scored five of the side’s six goals so far this season, and his latest strike helped them climb off the bottom spot at the expense of Chiangmai United.
Anything less than a victory for the home side would come as a big surprise. However, Chiangrai have clearly shown themselves less comfortable in games where they dominate possession, winning just twice from five such games. Taking the three points would show that the Beetles are learning the lessons and fine-tuning their game, and help keep them within close proximity of the summit.
Elsewhere, Nakhon Ratchasima hope to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats, as they host Samut Prakan City in Saturday’s early kickoff. Later that day, Chiangmai United aim to lift themselves off bottom spot with a trip to Chonburi, while Muangthong hope they can build on their away win last weekend as they host Police Tero.
The following day sees league leaders Buriram United travel to Ratchaburi’s in hopes of keeping their place at the top. The Thunder Castle lost on both of their visits two visits the Mitr Phol, with their most recent being a 4-3 thriller in this fixture last season. Lastly, Prachuap travel to the capital to face Port FC.