Wayne Mardle's predictions on this week's Premier League action from Newcastle
Hometown hero 'Hollywood' Chris Dobey makes his Premier League debut on the biggest stage in darts as the first of nine contenders
Last Updated: 07/02/19 10:44pm
Premier League Darts returns to our screens on Thursday night, live on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event, featuring the clash between Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith. Wayne Mardle looks into his crystal ball...
Masters finalist James Wade takes on Raymond van Barneveld, who begins his final year on the PDC circuit. Welshman Gerwyn Price faces 'SuperChin' Daryl Gurney. Peter Wright tackles former world champion Rob Cross and Mensur Suljovic opens against this week's contender, Chris Dobey.
Wayne runs the rule over five titanic tungsten contests, live on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm. And 'Hawaii 501' picks his top four players to make the Play-Offs at London's O2 in May.
James Wade vs Raymond van Barneveld
I'm laying my cards on the table early; I think Barney does well in the Premier League. I've spoken to his manager Jaco and they're setting their stall out to do well in this competition. I think Barney realises the importance of it. If he goes out week in, week out, I think he's going to be hard to beat and for Barney to be 7/4 to beat Wade is one of the most ridiculous prices I've seen for a darts match in a long time.
James Wade has been doing well. He reached the Masters final just days ago, but is he playing well? No, no he's not. He just happens to be winning, that's all.
Wayne's score prediction: Barney to win 7-3
Gerwyn Price vs Daryl Gurney
You could see in Gerwyn Price that the Darts Regulation Authority, the PDC, the fans, everything has just got to him. He's not allowed to be who he wants to be. He feels like he's being stifled and he feels like he's going to get banned at any time. I don't like it. Yes, Gerwyn Price can be over the top, but that should have been stopped before it has got to this point. I feel like he's been made a little bit of a scapegoat, but I can't say he's going to win a game until he decides to say 'you know what, you can't stop me'.
I'm going to oppose Price in this match because I don't know what kind of Gerwyn Price is going to turn up. I needed to come on stage and dance like an absolute idiot to get rid of my nerves and tension. If I didn't do that then I would feel like I was ready to explode and you can see that in Price.
He has to find the right line in being out of order and playing the way he wants to play the game.
Wayne's score prediction: Gurney to win 7-5
Chris Dobey vs Mensur Suljovic
We know Chris Dobey can play otherwise he wouldn't be up there but in Mensur, he's playing a tried and tested player who won't be intimidated by playing a man from Newcastle in Newcastle. Mensur could even laugh in the face of that.
Dobey will want to get up there and not let himself down and I think there is a big difference here. Mensur will be going for the win while Chris will be going not to lose. That's the difference.
Wayne's score prediction: Mensur to win 7-4
Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith
Can we just have this on record... do not ask me how Michael van Gerwen is going to get on any week, just put down 7-4. I do not at any moment think that Van Gerwen is going to lose a match of darts. Invariably, if I stick with that formula then I will be right most of the time.
Joking aside, we know what Michael Smith is capable of. It's a short course and he can beat anyone, I just don't think he can beat Van Gerwen.
I actually think that Michael van Gerwen is so head and shoulders above the others that they're actually playing for second place. At the weekend he won the Masters against James Wade by playing his 'C-game' and wins what's classed as a major. He's just to good for them.
Wayne's score prediction: Van Gerwen to win 7-4
Peter Wright vs Rob Cross
I have absolutely no idea. If this was 7-0 to Wright I'd be giving it the 'yes, fair point' and 7-0 to Cross it would be 'yes, I can understand that'. They are both are playing poorly.
They are number two and number three in the world, and I'm sorry but they are not playing like it. That's not being harsh, that's not being overly critical, that's not being brutal, they're not playing well and they know it. If they try to defend the fact they're playing well, 'no they're not'. They're under performing and I can't go for a draw because I think that one of them on the night will be so bad that they could get annihilated.
Wayne's score prediction: Cross to win 7-3
Mardle's Top Four predictions
1. Michael van Gerwen
2. Michael Smith
3. Mensur Suljovic
4. Raymond van Barneveld
Wayne Mardle was speaking to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza. The Premier League action gets underway on February 7 in Newcastle. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts