The focus for the top four in the Premier League Darts event goes to a new level on Thursday evening when the penultimate of league phase action takes place in Sheffield. We know two of the men who will be at the o2 in a fortnight but four men are still battling for the remaining two spots.
Once again the eight men left in the campaign will look to put on something of a show but rather than the high averages and the big checkouts, for many it is simply about winning from here on in and getting those two points.
Michael Smith vs James Wade
The opening match of the night is a big one for James Wade as he looks to put one foot in the top four and guarantee his place at the o2 Arena later in the month. He takes on a Michael Smith who will be hoping to be dangerous having been knocked out of the tournament for a couple of weeks now.
Wade goes into the night in third place in the table and goes up against a Smith who was truly walloped by Rob Cross last week. Smith never scored and obviously never finished either in an 8-1 defeat so he could be there for the taking for Wade who arrives here off the back of successive wins in the competition.
If you are a head-to-head punter this is one of the best match ups in the sport as Smith has won one of his last 16 matches against Wade, with the southpaw winning all four of their meetings this year. With that in mind the even money looks a bit of a snip here.
Mensur Suljovic vs Rob Cross
The second match of the night is a big one for both combatants as Mensur Suljovic takes on Rob Cross with the Austrian needing the points for his top four challenge while Cross knows if he wins his final two matches he will be heading to the o2 as the league leader.
Matches between these two tend to be close and their first meeting this season went the distance when Cross gave up a 5-1 lead to lose 7-5 in one of his weaker performances in what has been an otherwise outstanding campaign. Suljovic has been doing enough to maintain his challenge for the top four but he has only averaged over 94 once in the last seven weeks and that just won’t cut it at this level too often.
Cross is flying at the minute and he’ll know the chance that is in front of him here. I expect him to get on top of the Austrian early doors and then as his game flourishes he can pull away and move to within a win of guaranteeing top spot.
Daryl Gurney vs Gerwyn Price
The biggest match of the penultimate evening of the league phase is the third match on stage when fifth placed Daryl Gurney takes on sixth placed Gerwyn Price in a battle of two men who can still make the top four but who could see their chance extinguished with a loss here.
Gurney has a terrible record over Price with just two wins from 11 meetings but if he can’t have got confidence from his win over MVG last week then he never will have. The Northern Irishman is fast becoming one of the best winners of pressure matches on the tour too so Price might not have this all his own way. He is going well though so this one has a very tight feel to it. My gut tells me Gurney will win this but it isn’t with any massive confidence so I’ll leave this one alone.
Michael van Gerwen vs Peter Wright
It is not very often that we get to the penultimate week of the season and Michael van Gerwen is involved in a big match for himself but that is the case when he takes on Peter Wright on Thursday evening.
Wright is already out of contention in this tournament and looks to be in a right slump, although there were signs of competitiveness last week which was an improvement at the very least. Van Gerwen knows he has to win his last two matches and hope that Cross slips up somewhere else he will head to the o2 in second place for the first time in his career.
You’ve got to think van Gerwen wins this match given the seasons that the pair are currently going through but that is priced accordingly. Back in the day this would have been an ideal time to jump all over MVG on a handicap but he hasn’t convinced enough this term for that so this is another to sit out.
Back J.Wade to beat M.Smith for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with BetVictor
WON – Back R.Cross to beat M.Suljovic for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
Back him here: