Premier League Darts- Judgement Night Preview!

Barney MvG
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Premier League heads to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena for ‘Judgement Night’ of the 2016 competition, where Robert Thornton, Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall are fighting to avoid elimination. Elsewhere, world-champion Gary Anderson takes on James Wade, whilst the two vans collide, as Raymond van Barneveld faces Michael van Gerwen.

Gary Anderson v James Wade

Anderson and Wade both head into Judgement Night with their focus firmly on the chase for a play-off place, rather than worrying about potential elimination. Anderson has won six straight matches and sits in 3rd place; level on points with Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor, whilst Wade is only outside the top four spots on legs difference.

However, both men suffered disappointing exits at the German Darts Masters, as they were both beaten by Joe Cullen. Cullen edged out Wade 6-4 in a scrappy last 32 encounter, whilst ‘The Rockstar’ whitewashed Anderson in the quarter-finals, with the Flying Scotsman averaging a poultry 79.

Both will looking to make amends in Cardiff although I don’t think either man will be psychologically affected by their performances in Munich. Anderson’s Premier League form has been tremendous over recent weeks; his scoring has simply been relentless, whilst his double hitting, particularly D20, has been absolutely clinical.

However, Wade is in fine Premier League form himself. Having won his opening two matches, he then lost three on the spin, although ‘The Machine’ has recovered superbly and has recorded three consecutive wins against Dave Chisnall, Raymond van Barneveld and Robert Thornton respectively, to put himself in play-off contention.

Their head-to-head record makes for fascinating reading; Anderson has 26 victories compared to Wade’s 11, but Anderson is unbeaten in his last ten against the left-hander, winning nine of those. Whilst Wade is scoring impressively at present, I do question whether he has the consistency to dethrone the world champion?

Prediction: Anderson 7-4 Wade

Michael Smith v Phil Taylor

Michael Smith faces an extremely tough task to secure survival. He simply has to beat Phil Taylor and then hope results transpire in his favour. Nevertheless, even victory against ‘The Power’ may not be sufficient to avoid elimination for the young St Helen’s ace.

It was certainly a baptism of fire for Smith in his debut Premier League campaign; having to place twice on the opening night due to Gary Anderson’s illness. ‘Bully-Boy’ has essentially been playing catch-up ever since and he’s yet to produce the type of performances that he regularly delivers on the Pro Tour or European Tour.

Phil Taylor is in excellent form and currently occupies second place in the table, only trailing Michael van Gerwen on legs difference. Since his 7-2 defeat against Raymond van Barneveld on the opening night, the 55-year-old is unbeaten; winning five games and drawing his last two.

However, Phil will be bitterly disappointed having squandered four match darts to beat Peter Wright last week, a victory which would have seen Taylor top the table. That’s why I fear for Michael Smith; Taylor will be a wounded animal and I don’t think the spate of missed doubles which cost him last week will be repeated this time around.

The pair have met three times on TV since Smith sensationally knocked Taylor out of the World Championships in 2014, and Taylor has won all three convincingly. I can only see that pattern continuing in Cardiff, although even if Smith is eliminated, I expect him to return to next year’s competition as a much stronger force.

Prediction: Smith 3-7 Taylor

Dave Chisnall v Peter Wright

Dave Chisnall was arguably one of the stories of last year’s Premier League. Chizzy finished the group phase in second place, just one point behind MvG. He was beaten by eventual winner Gary Anderson in the semi-finals at the O2, where he missed three match darts to beat the Scot in the decider.

However, fast forward twelve months and Chisnall is on the brink of elimination from this year’s competition after failing to register a victory since the opening week. Dave whitewashed Robert Thornton on the opening night, but he’s claimed just the solitary point from his last seven outings, which came against Michael Smith.

By comparison, Peter Wright made a storming start to his campaign, claiming seven points from his opening four matches to top the table. However, he then suffered three successive defeats against Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson, despite averaging 108, 106 and 101 respectively in those matches.

Wright was facing down the barrel of a fourth consecutive loss when he faced Phil Taylor last Thursday, but Snakebite fought back superbly from 6-4 down to snatch a point and halt his slide. The Scot is currently in 6th place but is just two points off the play-off places, so this is a big opportunity for him to close the gap even further.

Chisnall has by no means played poorly in this year’s Premier League, which is reflected by his tournament average of 99.01. However, his overall checkout percentage of 34.62% is the worst out of all ten players, and Chizzy has lost in composure in decisive moments. He will feel he can outscore Wright, but to have any chance of survival, he must be clinical.

Prediction: Chisnall 6-6 Wright

Robert Thornton v Adrian Lewis

Robert Thornton seemed a relegation certainty just seven days ago, but ‘The Thorn’ enjoyed a wonderful night in Liverpool. He claimed his first league win against Michael Smith, before following that up with a well-earned point against Michael van Gerwen, in a repeat of their World Grand-Prix clash in October.

This tally of three points saw Thornton climb out of the elimination places and now his fate is in his own hands when he faces Adrian Lewis. Jackpot is enjoying a very strong campaign thus far; winning five and losing three, and those three losses came against Van Gerwen, Taylor & Anderson; the three players ranked above him in the world.

Lewis was slightly fortunate to secure victory against Raymond van Barneveld last week. By his own admission his scoring was not at his usual standard, although he was clinical whenever presented with an opportunity. If he can combine his notoriously prolific scoring with solid doubling, Thornton faces an uphill task to secure a result.

Thornton was hampered by illness at the start of his Premier League campaign but he has shown signs of a revival over the past fortnight. If the Scot can match Lewis in the scoring department, he has a fantastic chance of getting a positive result, but I’m backing Adrian to secure his sixth win of the season, and potentially condemn Robert to relegation.

Prediction: Thornton 5-7 Lewis

Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen

This game will have no repercussions for the elimination battle, but it’s fair to say that this is the most hotly anticipated clash of the evening. The five-time world champion; The ‘Dutch Master’, against the world number one and heir to the throne that Van Barneveld has occupied for two decades.

The pair have had some epic contests over recent years, none more so than in last year’s World Championships, when Barney rolled back the years to defeat Van Gerwen in a scintillating last 16 tussle at Ally Pally. Raymond seems to relish playing his younger compatriot and irrespective of the outcome, he predominantly performs well against MvG.

Van Gerwen continued his remarkable run of form by winning the German Darts Masters in Munich on Monday, although ‘The Green Machine’ wasn’t at his best and revealed he has been suffering with illness over the last week. Michael has recorded successive draws in his last two league outings, so he’ll be desperate to return to winning ways in Cardiff.

Raymond is currently in seventh position; safe from elimination fears, but four points behind Adrian Lewis, who currently occupies the final play-off berth. The Den Haag ace has performed extremely well throughout the campaign which is reflected in his tournament average of 99.37, but he’s been on the wrong end of four 7-5 losses.

Although the bookmakers suggest MvG should win comfortably, Barney will be desperate to replicate his World Championship win over Michael, and he’ll be quietly confident that he can do so, as long as he retains his sharpness in the decisive moments of the contest. However, I think we could see the Dutch greats sharing the spoils on Welsh territory.

Prediction: Van Barneveld 6-6 Van Gerwen

Betway Premier League
Judgement Night – March 31
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

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

Latest League Table

Following Night Eight

P

W

D

L

+/-

LWAT

Pts

Michael van Gerwen

8

5

2

1

+20

21

12

Phil Taylor

8

5

2

1

+19

18

12

Gary Anderson

8

6

0

2

+12

16

12

Adrian Lewis

8

5

0

3

+5

19

10

James Wade

8

5

0

3

+3

16

10

Peter Wright

8

3

2

3

-1

12

8

Raymond van Barneveld

8

3

0

5

-2

16

6

Robert Thornton

8

1

2

5

-20

6

4

Dave Chisnall

8

1

1

6

-12

15

3

Michael Smith

8

1

1

6

-24

14

3

Elimination Scenarios
Michael Smith
League Position: Tenth
Points: 3
Leg Difference: -24
If he wins moves above Chisnall and Thornton but has to hope other results go his way.
Would be safe with a draw if Chisnall loses and Thornton loses 7-2 or worse.
Is eliminated with a defeat.

Dave Chisnall
League Position: Ninth
Points: 3
Leg Difference: -12
If he wins would be above Smith and Thornton but has to hope Thornton does not win.
Would be safe with a draw if Thornton loses and Smith does not win.
Is eliminated with a defeat.

Robert Thornton
League Position: Eighth
Points: 4
Leg Difference: -20
Is safe with a win.
Could survive with a draw or a defeat depending on the results of the earlier games involving Smith and Chisnall.

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