Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld meet in a repeat of last year’s Premier League final as the Premier League roadshow heads to Dublin in Week 8. After van Barneveld’s incredible victory over Taylor, the fight for survival has taken a major twist and as many as 5 players are still entrenched in a relegation dogfight. Kim Huybrechts faces a must-win clash against Phil Taylor, whilst Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright are vying for survival, when they face Dave Chisnall and James Wade respectively. Elsewhere, reigning World Champion Gary Anderson takes on Stephen Bunting.
Adrian Lewis vs Dave Chisnall
If you take a look at the current table, Chisnall would be the obvious favourite. He sits in 3rd position, just one point behind Gary Anderson, whereas Lewis is in the relegation zone, albeit on legs difference. However, Chisnall has under-performed in the last two weeks; whereas Lewis has been unfortunate, picking up one point from his last two matches; despite averaging 103 in both games.
Chisnall’s scoring has been inconsistent in his last two matches; he averaged a miserly 90 in a 7-4 defeat to an under-par Michael van Gerwen last week. Lewis seems very content with his new set-up, and he was excellent against James Wade in Glasgow, overcoming a hostile crowd to claim a share of the spoils. With Peter Wright to play on Judgement Night, Jackpot will be desperate for a win, and I believe he’ll get just that.
Prediction: Lewis 7-4 Chisnall
Stephen Bunting vs Gary Anderson
Stephen Bunting will have been extremely disappointed with last week’s result. In all probability, the Bullet only needs one more point to secure survival, so he’ll be confident of avoiding the drop, but he surrendered a point against Peter Wright in Glasgow. Snakebite was very erratic in the early stages, allowing the former Lakeside Champion to establish a commanding 5-1 lead, but a combination of nerves and involvement from the partisan Glasgow crowd allowed Wright to engineer his way back into the contest to claim an invaluable draw.
Gary Anderson enjoyed a fine night on his return to home soil. The Flying Scotsman admitted he was extremely nervous ahead of his highly anticipated homecoming after being crowned World Champ in January, but he dealt with the pressure superbly. He was efficient on the doubles and came agonisingly close to clinching victory with a 9 darter, but his final dart at D12 just clipped the wire.
Two consecutive wins for Anderson has cemented his position in the Top 4, he sits in 2nd, above Chisnall by one point, and will be confident of retaining his excellent form. Bunting has improved his form over the last month, but he is still lacking the conviction he possessed at the World Championships. Anderson is back to his best after an indifferent few weeks, where past frailties on the doubles briefly returned. Since Bunting has switched to the PDC, Anderson has won 4 of their 5 meetings and I expect this dominance to continue on Thursday.
Prediction: Bunting 3-7 Anderson
Peter Wright vs James Wade
This should be an interesting match-up between two of the most accomplished finishers in the game. Peter Wright rode his luck in snatching a 6-6 draw with Bunting, whilst Wade was excellent in his game against Adrian Lewis, which was also a stalemate. Both competed in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy over the weekend and experienced differing fortunes. Wright lost at the first hurdle to Wayne Jones in a last leg decider, whereas the left-hander Wade enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals, beating Vincent van der Voort and Kim Huybrechts with 100+ averages, before running out of steam against Terry Jenkins.
Wright is unbeaten in his last five Premier League outings, but he only has the solitary win to his name. After disappointing defeats to Anderson and Taylor, Wade has recovered with 3pts from his last two matches against van Barneveld and Lewis and is only outside the play-off places on legs difference. Wright is not completely assured of survival, so with Adrian Lewis to face on Judgement Night, he’ll be eager to secure his future against the Machine, but whilst Wade’s finishing remains as reliable as ever, his scoring power has vastly improved over the last month; this could be the decisive factor.
Prediction: Wright 5-7 Wade
Michael van Gerwen vs Raymond van Barneveld
This could be the match of the evening. Van Gerwen will be looking to preserve his unbeaten record in the league phase and extend his lead at the top, whilst van Barneveld will be desperate to secure a victory that could potentially guarantee safety, depending on other results.
Van Gerwen is in ominous form, having won the Gibraltar Darts Trophy over the weekend, beating Terry Jenkins 6-3 in the final with a mere 109 average. He was under-par against Chizzy last week, averaging just 93, but you feel he was playing well within himself.
Van Barneveld produced arguably the performance of the Premier League last week in defeating Taylor. The Power averaged an astonishing 115.80 but lost! Barney’s timing was incredible, and he hit some crucial finishes, including 46, 82, 91 and 144 under intense pressure. The legendary Dutchman appears in buoyant mood and although he has tough fixtures against MvG and Anderson remaining, his victory over Taylor has reignited his belief.
MvG has the better head-to-head record of late, winning their last 4 televised meetings, although van Barneveld has been competitive in 3 of those 4 contests, with the 25-year-old having to produce some stratospheric darts to claim victory. However, I think based on his showing against Taylor, Barney will be in confident mood and although he’ll have to replicate last week’s efforts, I fancy him to inflict van Gerwen’s first defeat of the 2015 campaign.
Prediction: van Gerwen 5-7 van Barneveld
Phil Taylor vs Kim Huybrechts
This is set to be an uphill task for Huybrechts. He’ll face a wounded animal in Taylor, who will be itching to return to winning ways after suffering consecutive defeats to van Gerwen and van Barneveld, but he’ll also face a Taylor in incredible form. Taylor was superb in defeat last week, but Barney’s scoring and finishing in the decisive moments was flawless.
The Belgian essentially has to win to keep any slim hopes of avoiding relegation alive, but he’ll arguably have to produce a performance similar to his memorable Grand Slam win over MvG to stand a chance. Taylor appears very content with his set-up and he’s hitting an incredible amount of 180’s. The 16 times World Champion is renowned for his consistent 140 hitting, although he hit 9 maximums in defeat to Barney last week.
There is a bit of tension between the pair, with Huybrechts irritating Taylor with his theatrical celebrations at last year’s World Championships, which will only give the 54-year-old added motivation to claim the two points. Huybrechts has acquitted himself well in this year’s competition and has been unfortunate; his modest points tally is not reflective of his performances, but I fear his fate will be confirmed come 10:30pm on Thursday evening.
Prediction: Taylor 7-3 Huybrechts
Please let me know your thoughts about tomorrow night’s action, by leaving any comments/predictions below. Thanks for reading!