It is the penultimate night of action in the first phase of the competition, so what a big night in Liverpool awaits for Robert Thornton, Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall as they battle for their Premier League lives.
Smith and Chisnall are both from up the road in St Helens, so will home advantage prove telling here?
Michael Smith (10/11) vs Robert Thornton (21/10)
First things first, the bookmakers have got their pricing wrong for this one. Sure, Thornton is sat at the bottom of the table without a victory to his name, but Smith has only triumphed in one of his seven outings; he’s hardly the most convincing of odds-on shouts.
The Thorn will have been buoyed by his performance – if not the result – last time out against James Wade in Glasgow. He may have lost 4-7, but the Scot averaged 101.35; a full six points more than Smith’s best performance in the tournament to date. Add in the four maximums he threw (more than Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor) and really it was only Wade’s exceptional checkout success of 54% that took the points away from Thornton.
Smith enjoyed a week off after he doubled up when Gary Anderson was ill in week one, and that lack of action could work in his favour or against him; it’s hard to tell. But what we do know is that Thornton’s better doubling could be crucial in this contest, and so we’re happy to add the Scot to an acca with a +2.5 leg handicap at 8/15.
Gary Anderson (8/13) vs Dave Chisnall (3/1)
Two matches, two wins: happy days for Anderson on home soil in Glasgow then. The nature of his performances weren’t mind-blowing, but a combined average of 101 on the night is usually good enough to get the job done.
The Flying Scotsman has asserted himself in the top three of the table after that double victory, while for Dave Chisnall matters at the other end of the division are a priority. It’s amazing, given that he has thrown more 180s than any other player, that Chizzy finds himself embroiled in a relegation battle, but embroiled he is: three points earned puts him level with Smith in the dropzone.
A big performance is required by Chisnall then and he will be welcomed readily onto the stage in his home city of Liverpool. Mind you, the Echo Arena hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for him in recent years, and while he is unbeaten in two trips (one win, one draw) since 2014 his combined average is a paltry 91.50.
Anderson leads their head-to-head battle 10-3 and that’s good enough for us. Back the Scot at the 8/13 given.
Adrian Lewis (11/10) vs Raymond van Barneveld (7/4)
He’s a punters’ nightmare, is Van Barneveld. Sublime one week, ridiculous the next, it pays to avoid the outright markets when the big Dutchman is on the oche.
It was the former form in Glasgow he showed, a scintillating performance in front of the Scottish fans who love him so dearly yielded a 105 average and a 7-4 win over Chisnall. But Barney raises his game when he feels loved, and this week he may take his foot off the gas now that he is all but safe from relegation on Judgement Night.
Adrian Lewis was off-kilter last week in defeat to Anderson, and his performance summed up the inconsistency that has blighted Jackpot in this competition. He’s won two and lost three of his last five, averaging anything from 93 to 107. Lewis is one to avoid in the outright stakes too.
So let’s back the Over 11.5 legs mark at Evens. These two tend to enjoy close encounters of the tungsten kind.
Phil Taylor (8/11) vs Peter Wright (13/5)
Even without closer scrutiny we like the look of Taylor’s price here. He’s unbeaten in his last six Premier League outings, and he hasn’t averaged below 100 in any of them. That is simply too hot to handle (unless your name is Michael van Gerwen of course). Indeed Taylor was the first man to take points off MVG since week one in their 6-6 draw last week.
What will be worrying Peter Wright at the moment is that he is playing well without winning. He hasn’t won in four outings, and yet hasn’t averaged below 98 in the process. That can do strange things to a sportsman’s mind.
Crucially, Taylor holds a 6-2 head-to-head lead over Wright in recent times, so we’re happy to support The Power here.
Michael van Gerwen (1/8) vs Robert Thornton (12/1)
Those prices are reflective of the contrasting form of these two at the moment. MVG hasn’t lost in the Premier League since February 4, and his tournament average of 111.69 is taking darts to a whole different level, it has to be said.
Thornton will struggle to compete with that kind of form, particularly given his own travails. Regardless of what happens against Smith earlier in the night, we have to back a Van Gerwen win here; although his price is untouchable, of course.
A relaxed MVG can be a devastating sight to behold, and we’ll take him in the Over 3.5 maximums bracket at 8/11.