Last week’s Premier League Darts was cancelled due to Storm Emma – but that didn’t stop the best players in the world from competing in the UK Open over the weekend.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson won the tournament for the very first time and the Flying Scotsman will look to carry that momentum into his Premier League clash this week.
All eyes will be on Leeds’ First Direct Arena and current world champion Rob Cross is our top tip for Thursday night. On recent form, he should have enough to dispatch the unbeaten Michael Smith...
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN vs Simon Whitlock
Van Gerwen has been in supreme form as of late, winning three of his four Premier League fixtures whilst performing admirably at a handful of weekend events.
The world number one is up there with the greatest darts players ever and he will fancy his chances of notching a third successive title. 6/5 for the match treble is a price worth taking.
Whitlock has also won three of his four matches so far – but he was well beaten by Michael Smith last time out and that result could play on his mind.
Going up against Van Gerwen is never easy but this is probably the worst time for Whitlock to face him. It could get ugly for the Australian if ‘Mighty Mike’ brings his A-game.
TIP: Van Gerwen to win, hit the highest checkout and most 180s @ 6/5
Gerwyn Price vs RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
Price redeemed himself after a slow start to the Premier League campaign, advancing all the way to the UK Open quarter-finals before falling short against young Corey Cadby.
The Welshman is in desperate need of a victory here though or else risk being cast away near the bottom of the Premier League table.
Unfortunately for ‘The Iceman’, Van Barneveld will take some stopping. The five-time world champion has had to deal with his own share of struggles but if anyone can bounce back, it is Barney.
The Dutchman will have the full backing of the Leeds crowd and he represents solid value at 19/20 for me. It won't be straightforward but Van Barneveld can prevail.
TIP: Van Barneveld to win @ 19/20
PETER WRIGHT vs Mensur Suljovic
A few of the big names have struggled in recent weeks and Wright is one of those. He has lost just once in this year's Premier League but he is some way below his best.
A big performance here will silence the critics and ‘Snakebite’ is due a convincing victory. Write him off at your peril; he remains an exceptional darts player.
Suljovic has just one Premier League win to his name and it is hard to place too much faith in the Austrian. His checkout percentage is decent but he must improve his power scoring to stand any chance here.
If he is outscored by Wright, he won’t stand much of a chance – that is why I like the world number two at 8/11.
TIP: Wright to win @ 8/11
GARY ANDERSON vs Daryl Gurney
Anderson sent out a clear statement of intent by winning the UK Open last weekend – the ‘Flying Scotsman’ is still one of the best in the business.
Criticised by some this year, it would be fair to say that Anderson has failed to hit top form since suffering a back injury. This win could spur the two-time world champion on and he is worth backing at 1/2.
Most darts fans expected Gurney to be fighting at the top of the table this year but the northern Irishman has struggled to inspire confidence on the Premier League stage.
Gurney has the quality to succeed at the summit of the sport; however, he just isn’t performing well enough at this moment in time. Another defeat beckons.
TIP: Anderson to win @ 1/2
ROB CROSS vs Michael Smith
Look no further than Cross here. Yes, that’s right – the 2018 PDC world champion will end Smith’s unbeaten run. On his day, Cross is unstoppable; perhaps only Van Gerwen could stop him.
‘Voltage’ is not invincible, as shown by his Premier League struggles earlier this campaign, but he should be strong enough to win this one.
Plenty of punters will fancy Smith as the outsider here, and with good reason. He is the only remaining player with a 100% record intact and he will be quietly confident of victory.
A fast start may have Cross panicking but he is learning the ropes quickly and 4/5 is a good price for a Cross win. Smith has to lose at some point…
TIP: Cross to win @ 4/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*