Friday, June 28, 2013

Matchday 17 Preview


Bangkok Glass P-P Sisaket
Bangkok Utd v Chiang Rai Utd
Suphanburi v Songkhla Utd
TOT v Buriram Utd

Army v BEC Tero
Chainat v Muangthong Utd
Chonburi v Osotspa Saraburi
Pattaya v Police Utd
Ratchaburi v Samut Songkhram

Buriram United know that whatever happens this weekend, they'll lead the TPL at the midway point. With a four point advantage over Muangthong, they can't be overtaken before the second leg of the season commences next week. Last season, Buriram United edged out TOT 1-0 in a tight game in Laksi and a similar scoreline would suit the Thunder Castle again. Muangthong have added more impetus to their attacking play since the arrival of Winfried Schafer, but winning at Chainat won't be easy. MTU recognize that they have to keep collecting wins to hang onto the coattails of Buriram, and hope that the league toppers slip up somewhere along the line.

Army United start a sequence of five home games with the visit of BEC Tero this Sunday. That will be quickly followed by Muangthong United and Chonburi with easier matches against Pattaya and TOT to round things off. Nobody would expect Army to win all five matches, but a good return of 10 points could set them up for a top 6 finish.

The local derby between neighboring provinces Ratchaburi and Samut Songkhram would have been seen as a home banker a few weeks ago. However, the victory over Chonburi last Saturday might well be the catalyst to spark Samut Songkhram's ailing season into life. Last season, the Mackerels appeared to be heading for Division 1 until a mid-season victory over Chonburi prompted an improved run which saw them finish in the top-half of the table.

Chonburi will want to forget the last seven days as two defeats have seen them knocked out of the FA Cup, and as previously mentioned, the league defeat at Samut Songkhram virtually ruled them out of the title race. Their opponents Osotspa are unbeaten in five and returning to winning ways for the Sharks won't be easy.

A clash of interest at the foot is the one between Bangkok United and Chiang Rai United. The loser of this would finish the first leg in the bottom three while the winner would climb into the safety zone. Pattaya v Police also has bearing on matters at the lower end, and another loss for Pattaya would have them lagging well adrift at the bottom of the league.

Suphanburi and Songkhla must be pleased with their first leg performances. Suphanburi are in fourth while Songkhla are 2 places behind in sixth. The pair meet this Saturday hoping to complete the first leg with another victory.

Division 1

Ayutthaya v Khon Kaen
Bangkok FC v PTT Rayong
Nakhon Pathom Utd v Rayong FC
Phuket v Nakhon Ratchasima
Trat v Siam Navy

Air Force v Singh Tarua
Rayong Utd v BBCU
Saraburi v Sri Racha
TTM v Krabi

The Top 4 meet each other as Leg 1 draws to a close. On Saturday, third placed Bangkok FC welcome PTT Rayong who are in second spot. The Bulligans have found the net 36 times this season which is twice the total of PTT. On the flip side of the coin, the Rayong club have only conceded five goals while Bangkok FC have shipped 26. I feel PTT Rayong are likely to pinch a goal at some point, so the contest may be decided upon whether PTT rearguard can hold Bangkok FC's attack at bay.
On the following day, leaders Air Force will host Singh Tarua. The table toppers have lost their last two games to Luk Tapfah and Khon Kaen respectively as injuries and suspensions have taken their toll. Air Force know that if they can defeat Singh Tarua, they'd open a 12 point lead over them at the halfway point. A defeat though, would reduce the gap to six points and with 11 of their last 17 games to be played at home, you'd put your money on Singh Tarua finishing higher in the table than Air Force.
The final sprinkling to the promotion cake this weekend is fifth place Phuket at home to sixth placed Nakhon Ratchasima. Phuket will start as favorites after the Swatcats were forced to play the second half of their FA Cup tie against Phatthalung on Thursday morning due to floodlight failure the evening before. A 2-1 loss and subsequent cup exit to the regional league side after the floodlight debacle would have seriously irked all at Nakhon Ratchasima.

At the other end of the table, it's looking bleak for TTM, Sriracha and Siam Navy. It was only two years ago that the trio were playing in the TPL, yet on current form, all three could be plying their trade in the regional leagues next season. Sriracha have conceded the most goals (29) and have only collected two points from the last 24 available. They travel to Saraburi who have won four and drawn one of their last five home games.
TTM are the lowest scorers (10), but they'll see the visit of Krabi as a chance for three points. Krabi have been on a woeful run lately although they'll be buoyed after fighting back twice last Sunday to earn a point at home to Bangkok FC.
Siam Navy are currently in safety water but worryingly they've got 12 of their last 18 games to play away from Sattahip. With a 100% losing record on the road so far, they could drop into danger zone fairly soon. They start a three game away series with a visit to high scoring Trat this weekend.

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