The Premier League Darts roadshow leaves behind the Celtic nations for the time being and returns to English soil for Week 3 at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
The tournament burst into life last week with a couple of shock twists and turns: Michael van Gerwen losing his first match since what feels likes prehistoric times, and world champion Rob Cross continuing to struggle with his billing as the world’s best.
With some big-priced winners already in just two weeks of action, punters are asking ‘where does the value lie this week’?
Mensur Suljovic vs Michael Smith (7:15pm)
You have to feel a bit sorry for Mensur Suljovic in his debut Premier League campaign: the Austrian is throwing some excellent darts, and yet is currently without a point after two games.
Defeats to Simon Whitlock, who played the game of his life in week one, and Raymond van Barneveld have left ‘the Gentle’ in the relegation zone, but the fact he has won ten legs in that pair of outings speaks volumes.
Also impressive are his stats: 29 scores of 140+ is the joint-most so far, and a checkout success rate of 45.45% is the fourth best of the competition. You suspect Mensur’s first Premier League win is just around the corner.
Two games, two wins: happy days for Michael Smith in his second Premier League stint.
He played well to beat Daryl Gurney 7-4 last time out, but you sense that he got lucky to some extent: just 28.57% on the doubles is uncharacteristically poor from the Irishman.
Bully Boy is full of confidence at the moment, but if he has an off night on the doubles then Suljovic is playing well enough to take advantage. At odds of 13/10, we’re willing to take a punt on the Austrian to triumph on the Tyne.
Daryl Gurney vs Gerwyn Price (8:00pm)
Here’s an interesting stat: Gerwyn Price holds a 6-1 head-to-head lead over Daryl Gurney.
It’s a surprise because the Welshman, as talented as he is, has not enjoyed anything like the success of ‘Superchin’ in their respective careers so far, which would lead us to conclude that something else is afoot.
Price is wholly unlike his nickname of the ‘Iceman’: indeed, as inappropriate sporting monikers goes it’s up there with Peter Crouch and Dennis Wise. The Welshman is fiery, aggressive and lets his opponent know they are in for a tough battle ahead.
Perhaps that persona unsettles Gurney somewhat; he is a quiet, unassuming type who you sense doesn’t particularly enjoy going to war on the oche.
Maybe that’s an angle to follow in, although it has to be said that the Irishman is playing the better of the two right now. But we can test the theory that Price has a psychological over his opponent by backing him in the win/draw Double Chance market at 10/11.
Peter Wright vs Rob Cross (8:45pm)
This has all the makings of an absolute humdinger.
Whispers of Rob Cross’ imminent downfall may just be wide of the mark. The reigning champion has been hopeless by his standards in the Premier League so far, winning just three legs in a pair of spankings doled out by Michael van Gerwen and Simon Whitlock respectively. The world title hangover is clearly a tough one to shift.
But Voltage roared back to form at the UK Open Qualifiers this weekend, reaching the final of one and the semi-finals of the other two, and that consistency suggests the confidence is flowing back through the veins.
Peter Wright was in equally impressive form in Wigan, and he must be buzzing right now after downing his arch nemesis MVG in Cardiff last time out.
It’s a tough match to call this, but with two players bubbling up nicely into some sort of form we can attack the 180s market: Over 6.5 maximums can be backed at 5/6.
Gary Anderson vs Michael van Gerwen (9:30pm)
As if Cross vs Wright wasn’t enough to whet the appetite in Newcastle, we’ve then got a meeting between two men who have won three of the last four World Championships between them to savour.
Gary Anderson has been a tad below par of late due to a back injury, but he says that is well on the mend and it showed last week: he demolished Price 7-3 on the Thursday before winning Friday’s first UK Open qualifier; promptly giving himself the weekend off!
MVG also returned home at the weekend and will have had his tail behind his legs after losing to Wright in Cardiff. The Dutchman hates losing, and you can imagine he has spent a large portion of his time off hammering away at the practice board.
Anderson has won just two of his last twelve matches against MVG, and hasn’t beaten the world number one in the Premier League since 2015. Punters are advised to give this one a wide berth, but if you are determined to have a flutter than side with Van Gerwen with caution.
Simon Whitlock vs Raymond van Barneveld (10:15pm)
The final match of the night sees a tear-up between two in-form players.
Simon Whitlock probably can’t believe his luck at the minute. He was unbelievable against Suljovic in his opening game, taking out more than 80% of his darts at a double; unheard of from the Aussie, in truth.
And then he came up against a hapless Cross who average just 87 – Whitlock did the necessary in a 7-1 victory.
The Aussie can be confident then, but he faces a tough night’s work against Raymond van Barneveld.
RVB average over 100 in his 7-5 win over Suljovic, which was pepped up some fine doubling (46.67%). But he has also made 29 scores of 140+ – the joint-highest in the tournament – and so all facets of his game are firing at the moment.
For our money, the value lies in the 180 market: RVB currently leads this count 8-2 when compared to Whitlock, and so odds of 11/10 on the Dutchman to hit more maximums is unmissable.