Premier League 2016: Week 8 preview

Premier League Darts Week Eight- Preview


The Betway Premier League Darts heads to the Echo Arena in Liverpool this week, and the race for elimination heats up with Robert Thornton, Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall all under pressure.

Bottom placed Thornton plays twice, with one being a crucial match against Smith whilst Chisnall plays World Champion Gary Anderson. Also, two World Champions collide as Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld collide seek two points to advance towards the play-off places.

Michael Smith v Robert Thornton


‘The Thorn’ sits rooted to the foot of the Premier League table with just one point, however he has the chance to level himself with opponent Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall, should he be victorious in the opening game of the night. Thornton will see this as nothing but a ‘must-win’ if he is going to avoid elimination come the conclusion of ‘Judgement Night’ next week, as he plays the relentless world number one later in the evening.

Thornton is coming into the match after a much improved performance last week in Glasgow. Despite losing to James Wade 7-4, he averaged 101.35 in his first ton plus average of the 2016 Premier League campaign. And with Thornton just having a solitary point to his name when he drew with Peter Wright on week four in Aberdeen- he’ll no doubt see this as a must win match, being against fellow struggler, Premier League debutant Michael Smith. Smith lost 7-3 to Gary Anderson; however he didn’t feature last week in Glasgow.

VERDICT: Smith will face Phil Taylor next week whilst Thornton plays Adrian Lewis, so this is undoubtedly a pivotal game in the race to avoid elimination. Huge pressure on both, however I’m inclined to saw that Thornton’s experience might see him pinch his first win of the campaign here.


Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall


Dave Chisnall finds himself third from bottom in the Premier League, and embroiled in an elimination fight in the forthcoming two weeks. He faces World Champion Gary Anderson in Liverpool, in what is an important game for the man in yellow after losing 7-4 to Raymond van Barneveld last time out. ‘Chizzy’ has failed to close out matches this year, and he has only picked up points against the two players that are below him in the table. Chisnall whitewashed Thornton on the opening night, whilst picked up a point against fellow St Helens star Michael Smith. And although he runs into the inform Anderson here, he’ll be desperate to take something from the match.
Anderson has seen a fine upturn in results as the season has progressed. After beating both Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright last week in Glasgow, he’s now won five matches in a row. One things for sure, there’s likely to be plenty of 180’s with these two prolific scorers on the oche in Merseyside.

VERDICT: It’s hard to see past a win for Anderson here. He’s in a confident mood and I don’t see it stopping here. Chizzy faces another top performer in Peter Wright next week, so all of a sudden Chizzy finds himself in trouble. As a result, I see Anderson, the more relaxed of the two for this match, prevailing.


Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld


These two darting legends have had numerous epic encounters in recent years, with each having their share of success. Most recently, they met at the World Championship semi-finals, where Lewis stormed into a 5-0 lead, before ‘Barney’ launched a run of three sets to come back before Lewis sealed his place in the final with a 6-3 win. Also, they met in a World Series of Darts event last year- the Auckland Darts Masters final. Lewis was again victorious, as an 11-10 win saw him lift the trophy.

 

Lewis shrugs after hitting a 9 darter vs RvB (photo:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

 


Both though, have shown sporadic form over the course of the Premier League season. Lewis has shown glimpses of his best game, however has gone missing in games such as a 7-2 defeat to Phil Taylor. Barney has lost numerous games 7-5, however last week he stopped the rot by beating Chisnall 7-4. Lewis lost by the same scoreline to Anderson.

VERDICT: This is the toughest match of the night to call. Both are struggling for consistency somewhat, however Barney has been there or there about in most games this season- therefore I can see him pinching this match. I do though think that a draw is a very probable outcome between these two World Champions though.


Phil Taylor v Peter Wright


Peter Wright led the pack during the early stages of the Premier League campaign, however in recent weeks he hasn’t been getting the results he’d want and this has seen him slip down to sixth in the table. ‘Snakebite’ hasn’t won since week three, as he drew in week four with Thornton before losing to van Gerwen, Lewis and Anderson. The relentless nature of the Premier League though means that things don’t get easier for Wright, with this week seeing him face 16 time World Champion, Phil Taylor.

‘The Power’ has had a superb Premier League so far, and having now settled down with a set of darts since the Masters in January, he’s undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. The last time that these two met was infact in the Masters, where Taylor won a last-leg decider to take the match 11-10. Taylor’s draw with fierce rival van Gerwen last week will see him fulfilled with confidence in this match, after he recovered from deficits of 5-1 and 6-4 to ensure that he is tied on 11 points with ‘the Green Machine’.

VERDICT: Taylor to keep up his rich vein of form here. The Power’s scoring has improved significantly, and I expect him to win here to take top spot and put pressure on van Gerwen to keep pace with him, who plays next game.


Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton


Michael van Gerwen has been in relentless during 2016 so far, and having already helped himself to the Masters and UK Open crowns, he’s setting about winning the Premier League the right way too. Since losing to James Wade on the opening night, van Gerwen has responded superbly with five straight wins before last week’s draw with Taylor. Likewise with Phil, these two want to apply pressure to one another, so they are both eager not to slip up and allow the other to pull away at the top of the league table.

Thornton though is buoyed by fond memories of his magnificent victory against van Gerwen in Dublin when he claimed the World Grand Prix title back in October last year. He won the double- start competition in fantastic fashion- beating MvG 5-4, resultantly seeing him rise into the top 10 in the Order of Merit, and with it contributing largely to him earning a place in the Premier League. How much of a game Robert can give ‘Mighty Mike’ may well depend on the outcome of his match against Smith, if the Scot is victorious he may well give the Dutchman a good game.

VERDICT: Van Gerwen enters every game as favourite now, and rightly so after the magnificent performances he has been producing. However, don’t underestimate the Thorn- his dogged determination may well see him get something out of this match, and potentially round off a good night for him. It’s hard to see van Gerwen not turning up though, so Thornton will have to produce something special to win here.


Night Eight – March 24

Echo Arena, Liverpool

Michael Smith v Robert Thornton

Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall

Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld

Phil Taylor v Peter Wright

Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton

By Aaron Woodruff

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