Premier League Darts heads to the South West on Thursday as Exeter hosts a further five fascinating fixtures. The Unibet…
Premier League Darts heads to the South West on Thursday as Exeter hosts a further five fascinating fixtures.
The Unibet Premier League table is beginning to take shape after four weeks of competition, with Michael van Gerwen having returned to his customary top spot last week and only Gerwyn Price yet to taste defeat.
Six players are separated by just a single point in what is shaping up to be one of the most closely-matched editions of the elite invitational to date.
As in previous years, the Premier League’s visit to Exeter precedes the start of the UK Open in nearby Minehead the following day, and the ten players in action will be looking to warm up for ‘The FA Cup of Darts’ in style.
The pick of the night’s matches sees reigning champion and league leader Van Gerwen take on in-form Michael Smith in a repeat of their Belgian Championship clash on Sunday.
Smith pulled off a 6-5 victory in the Last 16 in Hasselt to extend his nemesis’ wait for a first ranking title of the season on his way to finishing runner-up to Gerwyn Price.
Van Gerwen will be gunning for revenge as he bids to make it seven wins from seven against Smith in the Premier League to cement top spot.
The world number one leads the way by virtue of a superior legs difference over Nathan Aspinall and boasts the only ton-plus tournament average of the field (101) as well as the highest checkout percentage (54%).
Smith, who was beaten by MVG in the 2018 final, has recorded back-to-back Premier League wins and is one of four players locked level on five points in the early race for the top four.
Luke Humphries returns for his second stint as a ‘Challenger’ and looks to go one better than last year’s draw by pulling off a shock scalp of two-time champion Gary Anderson.
Humphries held Gerwyn Price to a 6-6 draw on his debut at this venue 12 months ago, averaging 101.3 in a fine showing, and has since gone on to become World Youth Champion.
The 25-year-old also reached the Quarter-Finals of the World Championship for the second successive year and has climbed to a career-high 34th in the Order of Merit.
Anderson, meanwhile, has taken five points from his opening four games and is out to avoid becoming the first player to lose to a Contender/Challenger.
The 2018 UK Open champion defeated Rob Cross 7-5 in Dublin last week and knows he can ill-afford to be off his game against an opponent of Humphries’ scoring calibre.
Nathan Aspinall looks to maintain the pressure on MVG at the top of the table and fine-tune his preparations for his UK Open title defence by overcoming World Champion Peter Wright.
Aspinall has made a superb start to his debut Premier League campaign with six points from a possible eight and has won three of his four previous meetings with Wright.
The Stockport star climbed to a career-high sixth in the Order of Merit following the first European Tour event of the season and has already gone some way towards safeguarding his spot for the second half of the Premier League.
Wright, on the other hand, occupies eighth spot going into Night Five and will be wary of the important of taking maximum points to keep pace with the top four and avoid becoming embroiled in a battle for survival.
The world number two averaged just 83.5 in a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Price last time out and will be determined to banish that result and return to winning ways.
Gerwyn Price and Glen Durrant face off for the tenth time in PDC competition as ‘Duzza’ aims to avenge his crushing 5-1 defeat in the Quarter-Finals of December’s World Championship.
Debutant Durrant was knocked off top spot after squandering a 3-1 lead in an eventual 7-5 defeat to Aspinall a week ago and went on to suffer an early exit to Mervyn King on the European Tour.
The three-time BDO World Champion has openly admitted to relishing show-downs with box office star Price and will look to brush up on his finishing in a bid to get back on track.
After three consecutive draws, Price put his first win on the board in Dublin to climb to third in the table and went on to win the Belgian Darts Championship over the weekend in emphatic fashion.
The passionate Welshman is vying to reach the play-offs at the third attempt after narrowly missing out last year and will look to pick up from where he left off in Hasselt.
The opening match of the night sees 2019 Premier League finalist Rob Cross take on 2019 semi-finalist Daryl Gurney in a crucial basement battle.
Gurney is rooted to the foot of the table with just one point to his name but would go level with Cross if he can register his first win of the campaign here.
Cross has proved somewhat of a nemesis to the Northern Irishman over the past 12 months, having claimed wins in the Semi-Finals of the World Matchplay, European Championship and Brisbane Masters.
However, it may be Cross who has the most cause for concern on current form, having averaged just 90 and 91 in successive 7-5 defeats.
Gurney opted to skip the weekend’s opening European Tour event, while Cross was beaten 6-3 in the Last 16 by Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs.
Premier League Darts 2020 Match Schedule
Night Five – Thursday March 5
7.15pm Rob Cross v Daryl Gurney
8.00pm Gerwyn Price v Glen Durrant
8.45pm Nathan Aspinall v Peter Wright
9.30pm Gary Anderson v Luke Humphries
10.15pm Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen