Singapore's Hassan Sunny back to form as Army march on in PLT

Army United's Singaporean goalkeeper Hassan Sunny hopes that Sunday's 1-0 victory over Chiang Rai United is a sign of better things to come after a shaky start to this season's Premier League of Thailand (PLT) campaign.

The Gentlemen suffered a damaging home loss to Pattaya United on Matchday 7, leaving them dangerously close to the relegation zone. But a 1-1 draw at Chonburi on Wednesday boosted confidence and beating a tough Chiang Rai side through Josimar Rodrigues' first-half goal was an indication that Sunny and his teammates may be in for a good season, after all.

Here are give things we learned from PLT Matchday 9:

1. Hassan Sunny back to his best

It has been a difficult start to the season for Army United as their indifferent form saw them lose five out of their first seven games, including three home defeats.

But a strong first-half performance against Chiang Rai United saw them deservedly take the lead through Josimar. The hosts then withstood a second-half onslaught from the visitors and were indebted to Sunny for a number of fine saves.

"In the second half, we knew Chiang Rai would come at us," Hassan told ESPN FC after his crucial clean sheet.

"We played a bit defensively and, at a goal up, it was a bit dangerous. But we defended very well so credit to the boys. I was shouting at them for the whole 90 minutes and it's good that they were listening to the instructions."

Hassan believes that better teamwork has been key to achieving positive results in the last two games.

"I think the game against Chonburi was a turning point for us," said the former Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC keeper. "We didn't play particularly well but we played as a unit, we defended very well and it was hard for them to break us down. But it gets even tougher next week with Suphanburi away so I hope some players carrying niggling injuries can recover in time."

Brazilian striker Josimar has made an excellent start to his time in Thailand, with five goals to his name already.

"I have been very pleasantly surprised. I just wanted to give it my best but the start has definitely exceeded expectations," he said.

2. Messi Jay makes the difference

Chanathip Songkrasin's Muang Thong United career finally has liftoff as he followed up an outstanding performance in the midweek win over Buriram United with the only goal in Sunday's home victory over Chonburi.

It has taken the Thai international playmaker time to look like one of the best players in the country at his new club. But Chanathip's man-of-the match display against the Sharks showed that he is ready to lead Muang Thong's title challenge as their fourth straight PLT win kept them in second spot, just a point behind leaders Bangkok United.

Kirins' fans were also boosted by the sight of midfielder Sarach Yooyen in the starting lineup, four days after he was carried off on a stretcher in Buriram.

3. Super Mario keeps Bangkok Angels on top

Playmaker Mario Djurovski struck again as table toppers Bangkok United inflicted a rare home defeat on Ratchaburi.

The Macedonian netted the only goal of the game after 13 minutes in a fine follow up to his midweek double when Mano Polking's side defeated BEC Tero Sasana 3-0.

While Djurovski's outrageous second strike against Tero was a contender for goal of the season, Saturday's close-range volley against the Dragons was a more straightforward effort yet more important.

With six goals since his shock move from Muang Thong United, Djurovski is proving excellent value as the ambitious Bangkok Angels make the early running.

4. Swatcats on the slide

When Nakhon Ratchasima were promoted to Thailand's top tier in 2014, hopes were high that they would soon be the country's next footballing superpowers.

Wealthy sponsors and a huge fanbase made the Swatcats the team to watch in 2015. A solid, if unspectacular, first season in the Premier League saw them finish in an impressive eighth spot. They also welcomed a record crowd when over 35,000 crammed into their ramshackle stadium to watch them take on Buriram.

That may have seemed a good foundation for further progress but Nakhon Ratchasima have been going backwards this year. This season's only victories have come against bottom club BBCU and fellow strugglers BEC Tero Sasana.

Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to newly promoted Sukhothai was a soul-destroying result for their fans. The Fire Bats played with the attacking verve of a team with big ambitions. The Swatcats' tame surrender suggested that head coach Sugao Kambe may be on borrowed time.

Just nine matches into the season, several clubs have already made a coaching change. On this form, Kambe is likely to be next.

5. Blue Dolphins swimming in right direction

Leicester City aren't the only Thai-owned club in blue shirts capable of an amazing turnaround. Pattaya United were bottom of the table after Matchday 6 and things looked bleak for the PLT new boys.

But Lebanon international Soony Saad's spectacular late winner against Army United last week has kick-started a complete turnaround in fortunes. The Blue Dolphins followed this up by coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at home to BBCU on Wednesday and on Sunday they completed a perfect week with a 3-1 victory at struggling Chainat.

Pattaya now sit in 12th place, six points clear of the bottom three. They have a fair distance to go to emulate Leicester's feats in the English Premier League, but they are certainly on the right track.

With two points separating the top four and four points covering the bottom five, things are certainly shaping up in the battle for the title and the fight for survival.