Darts fans, the 2018 Premier League Darts season is officially underway. All ten contenders, as previewed by 888sport before the start of the competition, will be confident of reaching the playoffs and there have already been a number of shocks in the first few weeks. Read on for our best bets ahead of Week 3; Daryl Gurney is my top tip on Thursday’s 63/1 five-fold…
Mensur Suljovic vs MICHAEL SMITH
It has been a case of close but no cigar for Mensur Suljovic in recent weeks. The Austrian, sixth in the world rankings, has struggled to inspire confidence in the Premier League and it is hard to put too much faith in him on current form. You could argue that Suljovic has been unlucky, particularly against Simon Whitlock in Week One, and a big performance may be on the horizon.
Who’d have though it? Two weeks into the new Premier League Darts season and Michael Smith is joint-top of the table. After playing superbly in the opening two weeks, it would be foolish to look past Bully Boy here. Suljovic’s luck will turn at some point but Smith is full of confidence right now and is worth backing at 21/20 to start strongly.
DARYL GURNEY vs Gerwyn Price
My top tip this week, Daryl Gurney is due a confidence-boosting win. The Northern Irishman only had himself to blame against Smith last week; he is missing key shots at vital moments and you cannot afford to do that at this level. Having said that, Gurney will get his double-hitting right at some stage and you’d fancy him to beat Price at a very appealing 41/50.
Meanwhile, Gerwyn Price has struggled to compete against the big boys – and it isn’t going to get any easier for the Welshman. With a Premier League average of less than 94, Price is struggling for form and he won’t win many games with that kind of figure. For me, this may be a step too far; Gurney is playing at a much higher standard.
TIP: Daryl Gurney to win @ 41/50
PETER WRIGHT vs ROB CROSS
With four points from his two Premier League fixtures so far, Peter Wright is sitting pretty in the top half of the table. The world number two will be looking forward to facing Cross here, especially considering the contrast in form of both players. However, the draw (7/2) is worth backing – Wright is prone to the odd error and Cross could enjoy some success in this clash.
I backed Rob Cross last week and I’m backing him again here. The world champion cannot continue to play this badly for the duration of the tournament, not based on his efforts back in December. Cross may not have enough in the tank to defeat Wright but a draw and his first Premier League point could kickstart a positive campaign for the Englishman.
TIP: Match to finish a draw @ 7/2
Gary Anderson vs MICHAEL VAN GERWEN
Arguably the highlight of the night, Gary Anderson will be quietly confident of beating world number one Van Gerwen in Newcastle. The Scot played tremendously well last time out and should have the quality to push his rival close. If Anderson hits his doubles, you’d fancy him to potentially prevail given his power-scoring ability.
Michael Van Gerwen fell short last time out – he wasn’t good enough on that occasion. The Dutchman has struggled to hit doubles and at this level, consistent players willl punish him. At his brilliant best, he is almost unplayable but this one could go the distance. I like the over 11.5 legs at 59/50 in this contest.
SIMON WHITLOCK vs RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
Backing against Simon Whitlock here would be foolish given his efforts in the competition so far. A 200/1 shot before the tournament started, Whitlock has been sublime in recent times but he must maintain that form. A difficult run of fixtures awaits and the Australian may see this one as a must-win.
Raymond Van Barneveld is a momentum player. Give him the initiative and he will push on and punish you. The Dutchman, a five-time world champion, could be one of the primary contenders to win the Premier League title this season and this is certainly a winnable game for both men. With that in mind, the under 11.5 legs comes into play at 3/4.