Van Gerwen can put on a maximum masterclass
Barney should edge Suljovic
Sky Sports Action, 7pm Thursday
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Head-to-head: Smith leads 5-3
Michael Smith had a weekend to remember in Wigan, reaching two of the three Coral UK Open qualifying finals, though it was the one heat in which he didn’t get past the last 16 which might be more telling going into night two of the Premier League.
Yes, Smith looked in good form at the Robin Park Tennis Centre with Michael van Gerwen among his many victims. However, his one setback was a crushing 6-0 defeat by Daryl Gurney just days before the pair of them open up proceedings in Cardiff.
Gurney is favourite and he certainly played better in drawing against Raymond van Barneveld on his debut last Thursday than Smith did in pipping an injured Gary Anderson.
Superchin is the more consistent of the two, though a Bully Boy burst of big numbers can alter the shape of any game. It looks a tough one to call so back it to go the distance.
Over 11.5 legs
1pt 11-10 Betfair, Paddy Power
Rob Cross v Simon Whitlock
Head-to-head: Cross leads 3-1
World champ Rob Cross has had a terrible week with a 7-2 thumping by Van Gerwen last week preceding a trio of first-round flops in Coral UK Open qualifying.
He needs to clear his head quickly because Simon Whitlock, well aware of the scepticism over his selection for the tournament, turned back the clock last week in Dublin, delivering the night’s best average in a win against Mensur Suljovic.
Cross does not stand out as a great bet at the prices and Whitlock certainly has the scoring power to stick with him. Two matches last week finished all-square in 180 hitting and this could well be another.
1pt 9-2 bet365, Betfred, BoyleSports
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Head-to-head: Van Gerwen leads 48-11
Michael van Gerwen has never lost in eight Premier League clashes with Peter Wright and he can extend that record with another win.
It’s a repeat of last year’s final and Van Gerwen must be confident after a couple of Coral UK Open qualifier triumphs at the weekend to follow his Masters success and revenge defeat of Rob Cross in this competition last week.
Snakebite looked pretty ordinary against Gerwyn Price seven days ago, though a pair of semi-final efforts in Wigan over the weekend will have lifted his spirits.
If Van Gerwen wins he will almost certainly hit more 180s so take a punt on the double.
M van Gerwen win & more 180s
1pt 10-11 Betway
Gerwyn Price v Gary Anderson
Head-to-head: Anderson leads 5-2
If Gary Anderson’s back is better then he should win this well – just as he did when he beat Gerwyn Price 10-6 in the Masters last month.
However, Anderson’s back clearly isn’t good and he had treatment on it again on Tuesday. Welshman Price will have a packed house on his side and the Scot has a real issue with players who celebrate aggressively. Which is Price all over.
Anderson looked uncomfortable as the match wore on against Michael Smith last week. In a game which went the distance he had only 18 ton-plus scores and missed a stack of doubles.
He started well enough, going 5-1 in front, and with a few painkillers inside him he could well get off to another flyer. Beyond that, it’s hard to be sure what might unfold.
G Anderson to lead after four legs
1pt 11-8 Hills
Raymond van Barneveld v Mensur Suljovic
Head-to-head: Van Barneveld leads 5-3
Mensur Suljovic threw really well on his Premier League debut last week and still lost.
The Austrian carved out an early break against Simon Whitlock but allowed his opponent back in and paid the price.
Now he needs to lift himself from that setback against 2014 champion Raymond van Barneveld, an opponent he lost to in the semi-finals of the Masters last month.
Barney’s experience could well prove crucial in a campaign featuring so many new faces – that was certainly the case last Thursday when he came from 6-3 down to draw with Daryl Gurney – and that extra nous could see the veteran Dutchman take the points.
R van Barneveld
1pt 10-9 188Bet
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