This year’s Premier League season continues to provide compelling storylines and week three will no doubt provide more. Last week in Nottingham, Fallon Sherrock, the Queen of the Palace, raised her profile even further by drawing 6-6 with Glen Durrant when on reflection it was a match she will feel she could and should have won. That was one of three successive draws on the night with Michael Smith hitting the highest checkout of 140 in his draw with Gerwyn Price. Defending champions Michael Van Gerwen is the only player with a 100 per cent record but will that be the case after Cardiff hosts the third round of matches? Charlie Mullan assess all five matches.
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Peter Wright (10/11) didn’t let an ankle injury disrupt his game when he took on Gary Anderson in Nottingham last week. Just as he was about to do his tradesman dance across the stage, Wright seemed to feel pain in his ankle and wisely decided against the dance routine. When it came to throwing darts, Wright dismissed the pain to earn a 6-6 draw with his good friend and fellow World Cup winner Anderson. Wright has hit more 180s than any other player so far in this year’s Premier League with six last week following the four he hit against Michael Van Gerwen on the opening night.
Wright has been in great form the last few months and reached the semi-finals of one of the two Players Championship event at the weekend. Rob Cross (2/1) will be reasonably happy with the three points he has to his name after the first matches. After losing the final two legs to draw 6-6 with Gerwyn Price in his opening match, he won the last two legs to beat Nathan Aspinall 7-5 in another close battle. Wright has had the biggest checkout in both his games so far while Cross has had better success with his doubles hitting 43.33 per cent to Wright’s 39.29 per cent.
It’s been a mixed start to this year’s Premier League for Michael Smith (5/6). Despite taking the first leg in his opening match against Glen Durrant, he was well beaten 7-3 in Aberdeen. Last week in Nottingham, he was cruising to victory leading Gerwyn Price 6-2 only to lose his concentration to lose the final four legs to earn a point when two were there for the taking. The relief of getting that first point of the campaign was evident and instead of finishing his opponent off, Smith, who missed two match darts, let Price back in the game for the draw – one of three on the night.
Smith was averaging 120 early in his week two fixture and ended with a respectable average of 101.71 – the third highest of the Premier League season so far. However, Smith has lost the throw six times already in the Premier League and will hope to get off to a good start against this week’s challenger Jonny Clayton (43/20) who beat Michael Van Gerwen in the Masters. Welshman, Clayton, will have seen how close Fallon Sherrock was to becoming the first challenger to win a Premier League match and will give it his best darts to make that breakthrough in front of his home crowd.
There have only two matches played in this year’s Premier League but Michael Van Gerwen (20/51) looks unstoppable. He is being tipped to go undefeated throughout the campaign and after the way he has performed in the opening two weeks, you wouldn’t put it past the Dutchman who is looking to win his sixth Premier League title and fifth in a row. After gaining revenge for his defeat in the final of the World Championships to Peter Wright, Van Gerwen swept past Daryl Gurney as if he was practicing in his front room. Van Gerwen won the first six legs against Gurney and finished by hitting seven of the 11 doubles he faced.
Over the course of the first two games, Van Gerwen has a 70 per cent success rate on the doubles and has lost just one leg on his throw. Nathan Aspinall (4/1), who hit five of the seven doubles he faced last week, is going to have to be on top of his game if he is to inflict a first defeat on the Dutchman. Aspinall has the second highest percentage (54.44%) on the doubles and he also has a 170 checkout to his name. Any chances that come his way this week, he is going to have to take. If Van Gerwen gets in a groove he will be hard to stop and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he records another 100+ average at the end of the night after posting a 104.13 average against Wright and 105.05 last week against Gurney.
Daryl Gurney (5/2) must be wishing he could press a restart button and begin the Premier League season all over again. The Ulsterman is the only player not to have picked up at least a point from the first two nights of darts. Gurney, who has drifted from 25/1 before the season started to 40/1, has been slow out of the traps losing the first leg in both his matches against Gary Anderson and Michael Van Gerwen. While Gurney lost a close match to Anderson (7-5), he was simply blown away by the four-time defending champion who won the first six legs against Gurney who has struggled for form since the Premier League got under way. No player has lost his throw more than Gurney who did so three times against Anderson and three times against Van Gerwen. If Gurney is to win his first point against Price, he is going to have to improve his success rate on the doubles. Of the 27 he has aimed for, only six (22.22 per cent) have landed.
Gerwyn Price (5/7) has won both opening legs in his two matches against Rob Cross in week one and last week against Michael Smith but lost his way in the middle of both contests. Against Cross he trailed 6-4 before winning the last two legs to secure a draw. The following week, the Welshman was 6-2 down against Smith but managed to claw his way back to win the final four legs to earn another draw. Two of the last three Premier League meetings between Price and Gurney have ended in draws and after two straight defeats, Gurney might just take a point before a dart is thrown against Price who will want to put on a show in his home country.
Glen Durrant (7/4) showed great character in rescuing a point in his match against Fallon Sherrock in Nottingham last week when it wasn’t just Sherrock was up against, but also the 3,500 crowd who were willing the challenger to win. And leading 6-5, Sherrock lost the final leg on her throw to give Durrant a point. The crowd clearly played its part in Durrant’s performance. In week one, he hit seven of his nine doubles in beating Michael Smith while last week he managed just six of 23 as the crowd did their best to put him off.
Durrant will hope for a much calmer evening against Gary Anderson (50/51) who picked up his first point last week when he drew 6-6 with his World Cup winning team-mate Peter Wright. Anderson has begun both his games by winning the first leg Anderson is one of three players to have hit at least three 180s in his opening matches (three and four) so far which is an area Durrant has struggled with just three in total. Anderson has been on a double more than any other player so far with 34 hitting 13 of them (38.24 per cent). If Anderson can get out in front, it might prove difficult for Durrant to catch him.
Peter Wright to have more 180s than Rob Cross @ 4/5
Michael Smith to beat Jonny Clayton @ 5/6
Michael Van Gerwen (-2.5) to beat Nathan Aspinall @ 50/69
Gerwen Price to have the higher checkout against Daryl Gurney @ 20/29
Gary Anderson to have more 180s than Glen Durrant @ 10/13
Odds to win the 2020 Premier League:
– Michael Van Gerwen
11/2 – Peter Wright
– Gerwyn Price
8/1 – Gary Anderson
12/1 – Rob Cross
16/1 – Nathan Aspinall
22/1 – Michael Smith, Glen Durrant
40/1 – Daryl Gurney