Wayne Mardle previews Premier League Darts in Nottingham
Follow the action on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Thursday night
Last Updated: 15/03/18 9:05pm
Premier League Darts returns on Thursday night, live on Sky Sports Action, featuring a monster clash between Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld. Wayne Mardle looks into his crystal ball...
The visit to the Motorpoint Arena in the East Midlands sees former Premier League champions Anderson and Van Barneveld face off in a blockbuster match.
Michael van Gerwen meets Gerwyn Price, with the pair having contested a classic at the World Championship recently, while Rob Cross plays Mensur Suljovic.
Simon Whitlock faces Daryl Gurney in a repeat of the 2017 World Grand Prix final and Michael Smith plays Peter Wright.
Wayne runs the rule over five cracking tungsten contests, live on Sky Sports Action from 7pm.
Michael Smith v Peter Wright
I'm not sure if Smith's bubble has finally burst because he's never played consistent anyway. Michael Smith has said "you haven't seen the best of me yet". Well, he hasn't played particularly great but he's been getting wins. Last week was a bit of a blow against Rob Cross. But he's playing Wright at the right time because Peter is lacking confidence. He's changing his pace and his darts so I'm not sure where his game is at the moment.
This is a game where the pair of them need to get a win. Smith to stop the slide and Wright to get a bit of confidence back. It's a tough one to call, but I'm going Peter Wright 7-5 purely because his B-game is better than Michael Smith's.
Simon Whitlock v Daryl Gurney
Gurney knows he's been given chances to dominate matches, but he just can't put those doubles away. He's got to stop panicking when he gets to the outer ring. He's got to be aggressive and if he is then I think he can take care of Simon Whitlock. Simon had a great start, but he's not playing as well as Gurney.
Gurney needs to put those combinations away and if he can start doing that then I think he can avoid elimination and make a run for the Play-Offs. I rate him highly, but he needs to put those doubles away. He wins this one 7-3.
Mensur Suljovic v Rob Cross
I love the way both men played last week in Leeds. Mensur is standing so still on the oche - it's incredible. The fact that he's so still is making him more consistent. I think this will come down to who finishes best. Between them Cross is probably slightly more dynamic in that he throws in more 10 and 11-dart legs. If Suljovic averages a ton like he has been doing and gives himself chances, then he probably takes them out because he's one of the best double hitters in world darts.
I think this is a real tough match to call. Any kind of off-phase will cost them the match, so that said, I'm going to go 7-5 either way. I don't want to predict a draw because I think one of them will snatch a win.
Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
Price looked worried and he looked panicked last week against Raymond van Barneveld. I do think that the Premier League is telling on him. It's beating him slowly but surely. In that environment it tells because I've been there.
Van Gerwen is hot favourite to win this match and I think he will run riot. If Price goes 3-0 down then Michael will be thinking 7-0. I'm not saying it's going to be a whitewash, I'm saying that it's a possibility.
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
I think this will be a great game. Under pressure, Barney was brilliant last week to beat Gerwyn Price while Gary Anderson just refuses to lose at the moment. He's comfortable and relaxed and not stressing about being behind, but this is a real tough match to call.
I'm going to go for a 6-6 draw because I believe that Barney is trying to get better. He's changing a few things about what he's doing and I think he's going to use his 25 gram darts again. When Barney uses them he propels them more and throws them better. I'm expecting a really brilliant contest from these two.
Wayne Mardle was speaking to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza. The 2018 Premier League heads to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event. Nine weeks of tungsten action will then continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
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