The Premier League Darts event heads to Manchester on Thursday night for another evening of first phase action. After this there are just six weekly nights left in the opening leg of the tournament so points are beginning to gather importance now.
At the minute it looks like the top three are away and gone but such is the format of this competition there are still hope for the chasing pack that they can be caught if a player can put two positive weeks together.
Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price
We open up in Manchester with the top two in the world going at it when the world champion Peter Wright takes on the man he replaced both in that position and at world number one in the form of Gerwyn Price, a player who will be using new walk on music for the first time here.
Wright goes into the night in third place in the table whereas his opponent is left trailing a little bit having been forced to miss an evening of action earlier in the competition so this is a bigger match for the Welshman than it is the Scot. That might be significant here although it is hard to take on Wright when he has the throw. These two are becoming real rivals at the top of the rankings and it is a rivalry which is likely to be a focus of the darting world throughout the season so I’m happy to give this one a watch rather than bet on it.
Gary Anderson vs James Wade
The second match of the evening could be an important one for the overall table as the fourth placed player James Wade is on show. He takes on Gary Anderson who returns from missing last week due to Covid.
That meant Anderson slipped further behind the chasing pack for the play-offs at the end of the season so he could really do with a win here. He won’t have been able to practice too much while he had Covid though and we have seen throughout the last few years that when Anderson has some time off he tends to need a week or two to build his rhythm back up again. Wade has no such problems. He made the final in Leeds last week a week on from making the final in Liverpool so ‘The Machine’ looks in good order. It is never great to not have the throw in a relatively short sprint at this level but with Anderson expected to struggle early doors I like Wade at even money here.
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Michael van Gerwen vs Jonny Clayton
The third match of the evening sees the top two in the Premier League table meeting when Michael van Gerwen takes on the defending champion Jonny Clayton in a clash which sees both men in a good position going into the evening but where the loser could leave themselves exposed a little.
Van Gerwen has turned himself back into that winning machine that he was a couple of years ago but there are still days where he misses doubles and allows his opponents to hang around and Clayton will be hoping that this is one such occasion. Clayton went off the boil about a month or so ago but he had a good weekend at the Players Championship ahead of this evening which should have restored some confidence. These two have met three times in this season already with MVG winning two and Clayton just the once. I expect MVG to win here too but he’s short enough for me to leave alone.
Joe Cullen vs Michael Smith
The last of the quarter finals sees two men on the outside of the top four looking in facing each other in a match which would be significantly important if it were a few weeks down the line but is still one neither Joe Cullen nor Michael Smith will want to lose.
Cullen has been a little all or nothing in this competition this season while Smith just can’t seem to find that elusive night win which propels a player deeper into the mix. If he can do that here he would set himself up very nicely for the remainder of the competition. Should Cullen go deep he could easily end the night in the top four in the table. The big problem with betting on this match is that both men miss too many doubles for my liking. You would imagine Smith will do most of the scoring which might help him but Cullen can plough in the 180s out of nowhere. That makes me think the better bet in this quarter final is over 6.5 180s. We know Smith smacks in the 180s and with Cullen contributing too we should fly past this line. There were eight 180s in the reverse meeting between these two and I like a similar number here.
Back J.Wade to beat G.Anderson for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral
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Back J.Cullen vs M.Smith – Over 6.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair
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