Premier League Darts- Week 6 Preview!

Gary Anderson Michael Smith
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena will host night six of the 2016 Betway Premier League, as world champion Gary Anderson takes on his protege Michael Smith in their first ever televised meeting.

Michael van Gerwen, fresh from retaining his UK Open title will take on Dave Chisnall, whilst Phil Taylor goes in search of his fifth consecutive league victory against Robert Thornton. Elsewhere, Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis lock horns in a top four battle, whilst Raymond van Barneveld faces James Wade.

Michael Smith v Gary Anderson

First up, we have a clash between master and apprentice. Gary Anderson has been Smith’s mentor for a number of years and the Scot has revelled in the progress of the St Helen’s star. Nevertheless, it will be business as usual for the world champion in Nottingham, as he goes in search of his third consecutive league victory.

However, we could see a much more relaxed Michael Smith on Thursday. ‘Bully Boy’ claimed the first victory of his Premier League career against Raymond van Barneveld last week, and Smith admitted he was putting himself under immense pressure in his search for an elusive first victory.

Both men endured disappointing UK Open campaigns, after suffering surprise fourth-round exits. Anderson was the victim of arguably the greatest shock in UK Open history, as he was dismantled 9-3 by Riley’s amateur qualifier Barry Lynn- a binman by trade. Elsewhere, Michael Smith was beaten 9-5 by Cheshire star Stuart Kellett.

Although Smith has now secured his first league victory, he still has an uphill task to avoid relegation. In all probability the 25-year-old will require a minimum of three points from his three remaining matches and with the prospect of facing Phil Taylor on Judgement Night, Smith desperately requires a result against his mentor.

Whilst Anderson impressed in his victory against Raymond van Barneveld a fortnight ago, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ has struggled to recapture his world championship winning form since returning from illness. It will be interesting to see whether facing his protege affects Gary? Both men are desperate for points, and I think we could see a stalemate.

Prediction: Smith 6-6 Anderson

Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis

Wright and Lewis are currently occupying 3rd and 4th place in the table, so the winner of this match will certainly strengthen their top four credentials. Lewis was dispatched 7-1 by a ruthless Phil Taylor last week, whilst Peter Wright suffered his first defeat of the season against an imperious Michael van Gerwen, who averaged 117 en route to a 7-3 win.

For the second year in succession, Peter Wright reached the final of the Coral UK Open, but once again Snakebite was thwarted by the irrepressible ‘Green Machine’. However, the Scot must take encouragement from consistently reaching the latter stages of major tournaments; surely Wright will soon cross the winning line?

Adrian Lewis was edged out in the last 16 of the UK Open by a resurgent Jelle Klaasen. Lewis’ frailties on the doubles proved costly, and this was also the factor behind his heavy defeat against Taylor. Jackpot will be keen to ensure that his recent ‘double-trouble’ doesn’t become a regular issue, because at this level you will be severely punished.

Wright has once again experimented with his darts over the first five weeks of the competition. I think if Peter wants to maintain a high-level of consistency he needs to stick with the set-up he used to great effect at the UK Open. His scoring and grouping with these darts are very impressive, particularly coupled with his clinical finishing.

Snakebite is without a win in two Premier League outings, whilst Lewis will be hoping to bounce back from last week’s mauling against ‘The Power’. Adrian has won the pair’s last three meetings, which include clashes at the Grand Slam and the World Championships. I think he’ll extend his unbeaten run against Wright, although not necessarily with victory.

Prediction: Wright 6-6 Lewis

Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade

Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade are two Premier League veterans and both are currently sitting in mid-table. Wade has 6 points from six matches, whilst van Barneveld is a couple of places below him, having accumulated 4 points from his five games.

Van Barneveld suffered a disappointing 7-5 defeat to Michael Smith last week, and Raymond will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive defeat which could see him dragged into a potential relegation dogfight. However, one victory from his remaining four matches could be enough to seal his survival, so RvB won’t be concerned yet.

Wade ended his run of three successive Premier League defeats with a convincing 7-4 victory against Dave Chisnall last week, with ‘The Machine’ averaging in excess of 102. However, Wadey then suffered a 9-2 mauling at the hands of Mensur Suljovic in the third-round of the UK Open just 24 hours later.

Van Barneveld came through a nail-biting last leg decider against David Pallett at the same stage of the UK Open, before he ran into an imperious Phil Taylor in round-four. Van Barneveld performed extremely solidly, going down 9-3 despite averaging 101.7.

Barney and Wade are very evenly-matched. They are both consistent scorers, although Wade has improved immeasurably in the maximum department. Their last TV clash came in a fiery Grand Slam last 16 encounter where van Barneveld prevailed 10-7. I think this is too close to call, and I’m opting for another stalemate here!

Prediction: Van Barneveld 6-6 Wade

Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor

You have to feel for Robert Thornton at the moment. ‘The Thorn’ is rock bottom of the Premier League with a solitary point from his four outings, and he suffered a surprise second-round UK Open exit to former World-Youth champion Arron Monk, who was later beaten by Phil Taylor; Thornton’s opponent this week.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s wait for a major TV title continues. ‘The Power’s’ last major crown came in the 2014 Grand Slam, whilst his last ranking major was won at the World Matchplay nearly two years ago. The 55-year-old was beaten in a high-quality semi-final by the imperious MvG in Minehead, where Phil was left to rue missed opportunities.

Taylor averaged 105 and did very little wrong. However, after leading 4-1 at the first interval, the 16-time world champion missed D14 for a 121 finish and a 5-1 cushion, before later failing to convert 44 for a 6-5 advantage. These are the opportunities you cannot afford to spurn against the world number one, and Taylor was unsurprisingly punished.

Having said that, Taylor appears to be performing close to his best at present. The toils he has endured over the last few years on D8 and D16 are slowly eradicating and he is throwing with far greater conviction and self-belief, which is reflected by his four successive league victories.

Taylor is extremely contented with his game, whereas Thornton is bereft of confidence and form. The Stoke star has won 5 of the last 6 meetings between the two, and Robert’s last televised victory against Phil came in the 2013 Premier League. I cannot see any evidence to suggest that Taylor’s dominance against the Scot won’t continue in Nottingham.

Prediction: Thornton 2-7 Taylor

Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen

Michael van Gerwen went top of the Premier League last week with an incredible 117 average en route to a 7-3 win against Peter Wright, before seeing off Snakebite to retain his UK Open crown. All in a week’s work for ‘The Green Machine’, who is looking unstoppable at the moment.

He faces an opponent in Dave Chisnall who is currently struggling. Chizzy is teetering precariously above the elimination places and defeat against van Gerwen could see him fall into the relegation zone, depending on Smith’s result against Gary Anderson. This is quite alarming considering that Chisnall finished 2nd in last year’s competition.

The St Helen’s star suffereda 7-4 defeat against James Wade last week, but in truth Chisnall was well beaten. To the surprise of many, Wade dominated the scoring stakes and ‘The Yellow Peril’ was throwing far too many loose darts.

Chizzy was clearly hampered by his ‘snatch’ and this resurfaced in his UK Open third-round defeat to Gary Anderson on Friday evening. Chisnall led 7-5, before Anderson won four legs in succession to edge through. Whilst I expect Dave to relish the pace of the game, he’ll have to be at the peak of his powers to claim any kind of positive result.

In terms of their head-to-head record, whilst Chisnall has recently defeated MvG on the Pro Tour, his last TV victory against the Dutchman came in the 2013 World Grand-Prix. Since then, MvG was won 10 and drawn 1 of their last 11 meetings. Given their current contrasting fortunes, I can only see one result here.

Prediction: Chisnall 3-7 Van Gerwen

Betway Premier League
Night Six – March 10
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham

Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen

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