Sky Live: Premier League Darts
The action gets underway live on Sky Sports Action from 7pm
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 07/02/19 7:18pm
The 2019 Premier League Darts season gets underway at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena on Thursday evening, with world champion Michael van Gerwen bidding to win a fourth consecutive Premier League title.
Nine-time major winner James Wade replaces Simon Whitlock in a change from last year's line-up, while Chris Dobey plays in his home city as a replacement for Gary Anderson. Here's what we have in store for you on Thursday night...
James Wade vs Raymond van Barneveld
Head to Head Record: Wade 22-25 Van Barneveld (4 draws)
The 2019 Premier League begins with a clash between two former champions, as James Wade takes on Raymond van Barneveld.
Wade returns to the Premier League fold after winning the European Championship and World Series Finals last year, taking his haul of major televised titles to nine.
Meanwhile, Van Barneveld is competing in his 14th and final Premier League campaign ahead of his impending retirement.
Wade defeated Barney 11-2 in their last meeting in the semi-finals of the World Series Finals, but the legendary Dutchman has the edge over 'The Machine' in the overall head-to-head record.
Gerwyn Price vs Daryl Gurney
Head to Head Record: Price 7-1 Gurney (1 draw)
Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney both return to the Premier League after enjoying differing fortunes on their debuts last year.
Price was eliminated on Judgement Night after failing to register a single victory, while Gurney enjoyed an impressive second-half of the season to finish in fifth position.
'Super-Chin' claimed his second PDC major title in November, beating Michael van Gerwen 11-9 to win the Players Championship Finals - which saw him win Televised Performance of the Year at the recent PDC awards.
Price lifted his first PDC major after defeating Gary Anderson in a controversial Grand Slam of Darts final, and he'll be hoping to maintain his impressive record over Gurney, having only lost one of his nine meetings against the Northern Irishman.
Chris Dobey vs Mensur Suljovic
Head to Head Record: Dobey 1-2 Suljovic
Chris Dobey steps in at late notice for the injured Gary Anderson, becoming the first of nine players who will deputise for the 'Flying Scotsman'.
This will be just the fourth time Dobey and Suljovic have met, and by far the most high-profile occasion. Dobey is competing in his home city of Newcastle.
Suljovic is featuring in his second Premier League season after suffering elimination on debut 12 months ago, but the Austrian was extremely unfortunate to bow out with the second highest tournament average.
Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith
Head to Head Record: Van Gerwen 26-6 Smith
Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith lock horns in a repeat of the recent World Championship final and last year's Premier League showpiece.
'The Green Machine' will be aiming to follow up his third World Championship title by scooping a fifth Premier League crown, having topped the league phase in each of the last six years.
However, Smith enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, reaching three major televised finals which has seen him climb to a career high of sixth on the PDC Order of Merit.
Despite this, Van Gerwen has won 26 of the pair's 32 meetings, including seven of the last eight- with Smith's solitary TV win over the Dutchman coming at last year's Shanghai Masters.
Peter Wright vs Rob Cross
Head to Head Record: Wright 5-7 Cross (1 draw)
The evening concludes with a clash between the world number three and world number two, as Peter Wright takes on Rob Cross.
'Snakebite' reached finals at the World Grand Prix and Champions League in 2018 but largely endured a frustrating year which culminated in a shock defeat to Toni Alcinas at the World Championship.
Rob Cross' world title defence was curtailed by Luke Humphries in the last 16 at Ally Pally, but with the pressure of being world champion lifted from his shoulders, 'Voltage' could thrive once again.
Wright thrashed Cross 10-3 in their most recent meeting last September, but the 2018 world champion edges the head-to-head record, having won seven of his 13 meetings against the Scot.
The Premier League returns to Sky Sports on Thursday, February 7 from Newcastle before 16 more nights of tungsten action continue every Thursday through to the Play Offs at The O2 on May 23.