Premier League Darts- Week 11 Preview!

RvB v Taylor.jpg
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Raymond van Barneveld and Robert Thornton face double-headers as the Premier League heads to Belfast’s SSE Arena for night 11 of the 2016 Premier League. Van Barneveld faces his old adversary Phil Taylor in his first match, whilst Thornton meets his compatriot Peter Wright, before Barney and Thornton face off to complete the evening’s action.

Elsewhere, the top two players in world darts collide, as world number one Michael van Gerwen faces world champion and defending Premier League champion, Gary Anderson. James Wade and Adrian Lewis also lock horns in a game that could have significant repercussions in the battle for a play-off place.

Robert Thornton v Peter Wright

Thornton was narrowly edged out by Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling clash last week. Van Gerwen averaged 117.95; the second highest average in Premier League history. However, Thornton battled superbly as MvG just prevailed in a last-leg shoot-out. If ‘The Thorn’ can replicate last week’s display, he’ll be confident of upsetting Snakebite.

Wright will have been bitterly disappointed by last week’s performance. Jackpot was under the weather and only averaged 88, but he escaped with a point after Wright spurned five match darts in the decider. That could have a massive influence on the pair’s respective play-off ambitions.

Wright has performed very well in this year’s Premier League and until last week, his tournament average was over 100. However, since winning his opening three matches, he has amassed just 5 points from 7 games, and you feel he needs to defeat Thornton to maintain his play-off hopes.

Thornton is playing under no pressure now. After being plagued by illness in the early stages of the competition, his main aim was to avoid relegation, which he did so successfully. He looks to be enjoying his game at present which makes him a serious threat.

Robert’s finishing was magnificent against MvG last week. He boasted 71% on the doubles and his D20 hitting was impeccable, which is ominous for Snakebite. Wright is unbeaten in the pair’s last eight meetings; winning six and drawing two. However, they shared the spoils in week four, and I can envisage a repeat performance in Belfast.

Prediction: Thornton 6-6 Wright

Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor

Games between Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor are always extremely special. Both have enjoyed incredible longevity at the top-level and they’re arguably the two greatest players of all time. Their captivating rivalry galvanised the PDC and this will be their 75th competitive meeting.

Phil Taylor’s play-off spot appears virtually assured. ‘The Power’ failed to secure a play-off place for the first time in Premier League history 12 months ago, although Taylor has rectified matters and one more victory could be enough to guarantee his spot. Ironically, Taylor is unbeaten since week one, where he lost 7-2 to a certain Raymond van Barneveld.

It’s been a frustrating campaign for the five-time world champion. His performances have been far better than his results suggest, but in the latter stages of games he has come unstuck, which is illustrated by the fact that 4 of his 6 losses have been by a 7-5 scoreline.

Last week against James Wade, Barney was the better player for large periods, but some fine finishing from Wade kept him level, before RvB missed three darts at D18 for 5-5, and Wade pounced. Raymond hit 7/9 on the doubles to defeat Taylor in week one, and you feel he’ll need to be just as clinical if he’s to secure a league double over the 55-year-old.

Taylor secured maximum points from his double-header against Gary Anderson and James Wade last week. Phil wasn’t at his vintage best, but his mindset is far stronger now than it was twelve months ago. He’s taking his opportunities with far greater regularity and he is sensing, and subsequently exploiting any weaknesses from his opponents.

Interestingly, Van Barneveld is unbeaten in his last six Premier League outings against the 16-time world champion, and he’s also won the last four. He can take great encouragement from that, and although his hopes of securing a play-off place appear extremely unlikely, he will still be highly-motivated to get a positive result.

Prediction: Van Barneveld 6-6 Taylor

James Wade v Adrian Lewis

This is a huge match for both players, although you get the sense it’s a ‘must not lose’, rather than a ‘must-win’. Wade and Lewis are both locked on 13 points, although Wade has played a game more, so its’ imperative that ‘The Machine’ gets something from Lewis in Belfast.

Lewis won their meeting earlier in the season, coming back from 5-4 down to secure a seemingly unlikely victory. Wade squandered an incredible 8 darts to salvage a point on that occasion, so he’ll be desperate to make amends.

Despite battling illness, Lewis stole a point against Peter Wright last week, but after pulling out of Sunday’s Players Championship event, it remains to be seen whether Jackpot has fully recovered. Wade himself pulled out of Sunday’s event, having won just the solitary game over two days of Players Championship action in Barnsley.

Although Wade will have been bitterly disappointed with his performance against Phil Taylor last week, he was superb against Raymond van Barneveld. It was a vintage Wade display; he hit a multitude of 140’s and recorded 64% on the doubles. He was handed one big chance by Barney, and he grabbed it by both hands to seal an important victory.

Lewis has not been at his explosive best in this year’s Premier League; out of the remaining eight players, only Robert Thornton has a lower tournament average. Nevertheless, he’s been clinical and has taken his opportunities extremely well. This is very tough to call, but given Lewis’ recent illness, I must side with Wade.

Prediction: Wade 7-5 Lewis

Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson

It’s been another fine week for Michael van Gerwen. After averaging 117.95 in defeating Robert Thornton last Thursday, MvG reached the final in all three Players Championship events over the weekend, winning one, losing two. Despite the two defeats, reaching three successive Pro Tour finals is a remarkable display of consistency.

Gary Anderson’s form has been puzzling of late. He enjoyed a magnificent run of six consecutive Premier League victories, but since then, he was whitewashed by Joe Cullen at the German Darts Masters; he’s got just one point from his last two league matches, and he suffered a 6-1 defeat to Jonny Clayton in round one of Players Championship 3.

Anderson did enjoy a welcome return to form in Saturday’s fourth Players Championship event, reaching the semi-finals before losing to his opponent on Thursday, Michael Van Gerwen. ‘The Green Machine’ will be the overwhelming bookmakers favourite, but Anderson is so so capable, and he seems to relish the prospect of facing MvG.

Anderson defeated Van Gerwen en route to winning his maiden World Championship crown in 2015 and he also defeated the Dutchman in the final of last year’s Premier League, therefore it’s impossible to write off ‘The Flying Scotsman’. The electric pace of their matches suits both players, and I expect another thrilling tussle in Belfast.

Yet, the pressure is all on Anderson this week. If Wade and Lewis draw, defeat for Anderson will see him slip to 5th position. He’ll be keen to avoid a repeat of last week’s underwhelming display against Phil Taylor, therefore he’ll need to start strongly because MvG is an imperious front-runner.

If there is one criticism that can be levelled at Van Gerwen; he occasionally switches off for periods in matches. However, I don’t think that will be an issue this week. The world number one trails Phil Taylor by three points and Michael will be desperate to secure top spot in the league phase for a fourth successive year. He’ll be a man on a mission.

Prediction: Van Gerwen 7-4 Anderson

Raymond van Barneveld v Robert Thornton

These double-headers are always difficult to call, because a lot depends on how they fare in their opening matches. Thornton has no chance of reaching the play-offs, whilst Van Barneveld virtually requires maximum points from his remaining six matches. However, there is still plenty for; pride first and foremost.

Thornton’s performances have improved considerably over the last month; he looks far more confident and his scoring-power has returned. Van Barneveld has performed well for the vast majority of the competition, but he has just failed to close out certain matches.

RvB prevailed 7-5 when they met in week three. The Den Haag ace completely dominated the contest, averaging 103 to Thornton’s 89. However, the Scot very nearly snatched a point; missing one dart at D20 in the deciding leg. I think we could see a similarly tight battle on Thursday, with a mistake or moment of brilliance deciding the outcome.

They have met on 13 occasions, with ten of these meetings coming on the big TV stage. Thornton has won just one; Van Barneveld has won seven, whilst they’ve also contested two stalemates. I don’t think Robert is the type of player to be affected by head-to-head records, although I’m sure this statistic will give Raymond a great deal of confidence.

Prediction: Van Barneveld 7-4 Thornton

Night 11 – April 14
The SSE Arena, Belfast

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

League Table

After Night Ten P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
Phil Taylor 11 8 2 1 +28 25 18
Michael van Gerwen 10 6 3 1 +22 25 15
Adrian Lewis 10 6 1 3 +8 22 13
Gary Anderson 10 6 1 3 +8 18 13
James Wade 11 6 1 4 +3 21 13
Peter Wright 10 4 3 3 +1 16 11
Raymond van Barneveld 10 3 1 6 -5 18 7
Robert Thornton 10 1 2 7 -25 7 4
Dave Chisnall (E) 9 1 1 7 -14 17 3
Michael Smith (E) 9 1 1 7 -26 15 3


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