Premier League Darts Night Five Preview
March 7, 2019
The Premier League Darts is back and this week it’s a tale of redemption for many of the superstars gracing the oche in Aberdeen this Thursday.
Hot off the heels of an explosive UK Open, which saw Nathan Aspinall win his first major PDC title with a brilliant 170 finish, this event will see some of top darts talents face off in a game of high stakes. Michael van Gerwen will be hoping to rectify the poor start he’s made in the competition, while Rob Cross needs a win after losing the aforementioned final. There’s a lot to get through, so let jump straight in.
Michael Smith vs Rob Cross
Rob Cross will be kicking himself after failing to take home the glory last week in the UK Open. He’ll be even more frustrated by the fact that he actually had a really good tournament, but seemingly ran out of steam at the last hurdle. It was total capitulation and a real dent in Cross’ confidence. The one thing he can take heart from is that he beat Michael Smith fairly comfortably in the semi-final of the UK Open last Sunday.
Smith has had to battle against some less than favourable circumstances, having taken part in the Open and the Premier League right after an operation on his leg. He can take a lot of pride from how he played though, winning his first League match of the year as well as making it to the semis. He’ll be in much better shape this time around and, with a chance of revenge against Cross in sight, should bring his A game. I think Cross might have a tournament hangover and will struggle to get anything from this one.
Daryl Gurney vs James Wade
This is probably the hardest to call out of all the ties, as both men are pretty much equal in terms of talent and form. James Wade has had a roller-coaster of a week. He started off with an incredible win against Micheal van Gerwen where he played at his absolute peak. It looked like he might build on that in the UK Open, with a demolition of James Wilson 10-1 followed by a competent 10-7 win against Max Hopp. However, he then suffered a shocking defeat against Ross Smith and it was more than deserved. It was a really poor performance and it might have knocked the wind out of his sails after an explosive start.
Gurney did well in the first few weeks of the Premier League but has gone off the boil recently. He came very close to being just the tenth man in history to suffer a whitewash but managed to claw one back to spare himself the indignity. He also had a quick exit in the Open and generally looks to be in a bit of a rut. Wade is in slightly better form, so I think he might just edge it, but there’s a real chance we could be looking at an even draw here.
Mensur Suljovic vs Gerwyn Price
There could be some fireworks in this one and not just from the action in the oche. Gerwyn ‘The Iceman’ Price is known for being a controversial figure in the darts world, not least for his over-exuberant celebrations. Right now though, there’s arguably no one in better form. He’s had to suffer some less than ideal situations, the big £21,500 fine will certainly have been a blow, but Price is now back on track.
He is currently unbeaten in the Premier League, which is no small feat, and had a decent UK Open where he managed to reach the semi-final. He was unlucky to go out against the eventual winner Aspinall but still showcased some incredible skill over the weekend. Add to this a second consecutive win in the Players Championship and you have a man who heads into this match in red hot form.
Suljovic has not had the same fortunes. He had an early exit in the UK Open, crashing out in the second match. His record against Price isn’t the best either having lost nine times in the last fourteen, including a loss in the Grand Slam of Darts semi-final. In terms of a prediction, I think it’ll be a comfortable win for The Iceman on the night.
Raymond van Barneveld vs Peter Wright
Raymond van Barneveld is a veteran of the game and he’ll have set his sights on this one before his retirement. He’ll have to up his game though as he’s had the worst form of the whole lot, having experienced a five-year spell without any individual titles. He salvaged points against Price and Suljovic, but he’s had a poor season so far. He still remains popular with the fans, but he’ll be hoping to bow out with one last piece of silverware to his name.
There is some hope though, as his opponent Wright hasn’t been in the best form himself. He had a first-round exit in the UK open recently and a second round exit at the PDC Darts World Championship in December, and has struggled at various points throughout the season. Even when he’s played well the results haven’t gone his way, which is something he can scarcely afford. For that reason, I’m backing van Barneveld to get his first Premier League win of the season.
Michael van Gerwen vs John Henderson
Who doesn’t love an underdog? The final tie this week is probably my pick of the bunch as, even though van Gerwen is the clear favourite, I have a sneaky suspicion we might be in for a shock. Henderson might not have the calibre of his opponent, but he has experience with giant killings and has actually beaten van Gerwen before in the 2017 World Grand Prix. He’s also playing in front of a cacophonous home crowd that’ll have no reservations when it comes to their vocal support of the Highlander. He’ll have to channel the form from his win against the Dutchman if he wants to do well, but there are signs that he has a real chance.
For starters, van Gerwen is not in the best of form. He lost his first Premier League match last week to James Wade before being beaten again by Mervyn King in the UK Open. I’m wary of saying this because every time I do he seems to win another trophy, but there’s a certain complacency seeping into van Gerwen’s game. This is understandable, he’s a serial winner who’s reached a level of domination only matched by the great Phil Taylor. But against both King and Wade, he looked off the pace mentally. His confidence has been one of his best assets over the years, but he can’t continue to go into games seeming assured of a win.
Van Gerwen should, of course, end up victorious on the night, but there are enough factors to suggest Henderson could do some damage. I anticipate there will be some nervy moments for the world number one and he’ll have to be mentally ready to cope with them. I’m by no means saying it’s a nailed on upset, after all van Gerwen has a point to prove after his last two matches, but there could be some serious value to be found in this one.
Find all your Premier League Darts betting odds here
Cyrus has been writing about sports and many other topics for major publications over the past five years. Now working in digital marketing, he spends his days arguing over football and dreaming of his beloved Manchester City winning the champions league.