We have reached the sixth week of the Premier League Darts season and while sport is getting cancelled all around the world, the action will take place in Liverpool on Thursday night as we head towards the business end of the campaign.
Stephen Bunting is the Challenger in front of his fellow scousers but the headline act of the night is the repeat of the UK Open final as Michael van Gerwen takes on Gerwyn Price in a heavyweight showdown.
Michael Smith vs Peter Wright
We begin with what is a repeat of The Masters final as Michael Smith takes on the world champion Peter Wright. Smith won’t need us to remind him that he should have won that final but missed doubles allowed Wright in to snatch the title from him.
Smith has performed well in this tournament thus far, certainly much better than Wright and goes into the night level on points with Glen Durrant on top of the pile. He hasn’t averaged more than 100 in his last two matches but he was well over that mark until a few missed doubles came into play last week. You would think Wright will get it right soon but he isn’t in a good frame of mind on the oche. That is clear to see. I think Smith without the draw in play is the way to attack this one.
Daryl Gurney vs Glen Durrant
The second match of the night sees Daryl Gurney looking to continue the return to form he showed at the UK Open last weekend when he takes on Glen Durrant for whom the draw wasn’t overly kind in Minehead last week.
Durrant is the leader of the pile heading into the week and he has been playing some great darts all season. Gurney played well in Minehead last week but he often plays well there so I want to see more good performances from him before I trust him overall. Even with the improved showing Gurney gave last week I like Durrant here. He is solid as a rock and makes no mistakes. He also beat Gurney at the World Championship and I fancy he can take care of him here too.
Gerwyn Price vs Michael van Gerwen
The pick of the matches on the night is the third game on show as Gerwyn Price will look to make up for his disappointment in throwing away the UK Open final at the weekend when he takes on the man who picked his pocket in Michael van Gerwen.
Van Gerwen has not been at his best in this competition but he looked back to prime form at the UK Open and you’ve got to imagine he’ll go well again here. Price is dangerous though and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Welshman holds his own long enough to pick up a result of some kind, even if it is only a draw. However this one ends it is a match to watch and enjoy rather than bet on.
Rob Cross vs Stephen Bunting
The penultimate match of the night sees the Challenger in action as Stephen Bunting competes in front of his own fans when he takes on the former world champion Rob Cross, a man who has gone the distance in every match this season.
Bunting is the pick of the Challengers in terms of the world rankings so Cross has got the short straw here. The positive for him is that he has never lost to Bunting which will be a confidence boost but I certainly wouldn’t want to be getting involved in him at odds on purely based on that. My gut feeling is Bunting will give this a good go and is an ounce of value here, but I don’t have enough of a feel about it to justify getting involved here.
Gary Anderson vs Nathan Aspinall
The final match of the night sees the two previous UK Open winners prior to last weekend battling it out when Gary Anderson takes on a Nathan Aspinall who should be relatively at home given that he lives in nearby Stockport.
Anderson has done fine in the Premier League this season but I think it is fair to say there is more to come from him. He might need to find it here though because Aspinall is playing some really nice darts. I thought he might take a few weeks to adjust to the venues and the frenetic nature of this tournament but he has taken to it like a duck to water. He will be gutted to have run into Michael van Gerwen in the first match of his title defence last week but I suspect he can make up for that with a victory here.
Back M.Smith to beat P.Wright (DNB) for a 4/10 stake at 2.38 with Sky Bet
WON – Back G.Durrant to beat D.Gurney for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with Coral
Back N.Aspinall to beat G.Anderson for a 4/10 stake at 2.30 with Betway