The Premier League Darts roadshow heads into Nottingham on Thursday evening when all eight men will line up and battle it out for points towards the overall league table as well as the £10,000 for coming out on top on the night.
Michael van Gerwen won a second night in succession last week and he’ll be looking to complete the hat trick in Nottingham but the other seven players are fully up to speed now and should be looking to bring him down a peg or two.
Michael Smith vs James Wade
The opening match of the night is always a key contest towards how the evening pans out and it sees the world finalist Michael Smith taking on a James Wade who has had a pretty good tournament so far.
Smith took a while to get going in this tournament but he made the semi-final a couple of weeks ago and the final last week, losing to Michael van Gerwen on both occasions and with the throw in this match he’ll be confident of winning. Wade has had the edge of their battles in the past, although Smith won their most recent meeting when he came out on top in the semi-final of the World Championship. I’ve got to think with the throw and the scoring power that he has that Smith will win this one but he’s plenty short enough given that he can be prone to missing doubles.
Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price
The second match of the evening sees two of the best in the world battling it out when Michael van Gerwen looks to back up not just his two Premier League night wins but also the European Tour success last weekend when he takes on a Gerwyn Price who is returning to action after being forced to miss last week and the event in Germany.
I don’t know whether van Gerwen is back to that relentless winning machine of a few years ago but there is a glint in his eye that suggests he is full of confidence once again and we should remember from experience that he is a dangerous man to stop when he is in that mood. Whether he can win a third night in succession remains to be seen but he’ll fancy his chances of coming through here because even by his own admission Price’s hand is still not 100%. He can’t really afford not to give it a go here. I suspect if it was a Players Championship event where he is having to play seven matches in a day to win he might not be here but as it is only three he’ll give it a go but he won’t have been practicing much and just has the wrong draw. The price on MVG to win is crumbling but the handicap lines are holding up and you’ve got to think if Price is in a bad way with his hand he’ll get thrashed and if he isn’t he could even win the match so perhaps the best way to play this one is to take MVG to cover the 1.5 leg handicap.
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Gary Anderson vs Jonny Clayton
The third match of the night is an interesting one as it sees Gary Anderson taking on the defending champion Jonny Clayton with the winner knowing that he will have the throw in the semi-final later in the evening, which offers the man who comes out on top the opportunity to pick up a number of points.
Anderson needs every one of those points because he is three points adrift of the next challenger and five off the play-off spots and hasn’t won a match in the Premier League since the opening night. The form of Clayton has just come off the top of where it was. He has only won one match in the last three weeks and wasn’t overly impressive in the European Tour event at the weekend. That might open the door for Anderson with the throw but an 85 average in defeat last week doesn’t exactly inspire me in so I’m happy to leave this one along too.
Joe Cullen vs Peter Wright
The last of the quarter finals pits The Masters champion Joe Cullen going up against the World Championship winner Peter Wright in a battle between two men who have had a good start to their campaign so who can both relax a little as a result.
I say they have both had a good start but although he made the semi-final last week, Cullen had a bye in the first round when Gerwyn Price pulled out so he hasn’t actually won a match on the Premier League stage for three weeks. Wright lost in the quarter final last week and he didn’t overly impress in the European Tour event prior to pulling out ahead of his last eight match with Michael van Gerwen. Wright has been suffering with a back problem that nearly forced him out of the UK Open and clearly flared up over the weekend. That puts me off backing him but Cullen is finding the going a little tough here so I’m not really that interested in backing him either.
Back M.van Gerwen (-1.5 legs) to beat G.Price for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with William Hill
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