It’s Crunch Time In The Tungsten Throwing
Premier League Darts
The undefeated Michael van Gerwen leads the way going into round nine of the Darts Premier League in Manchester, with Dave Chisnall and Gary Anderson not far off the pace in second and third.
At the other end of the table, the bottom two at the conclusion of Thursday night’s fixtures will be eliminated. Five players, including reigning champion Raymond van Barneveld, are fighting to avoid that fate.
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
James Wade has won this title before and can’t be underestimated, but he hasn’t been at his best this season, having drawn three and lost two of his eight matches so far. He also has a terrible record against van Gerwen, having lost nine of their last ten meetings, and in his current form, the world champion looks unstoppable.
Phil Taylor v Dave Chisnall
Six-time Premier League winner Phil Taylor is currently outside the top four but that position is misleading, as he tops the tournament average score table and has averaged 100 points in seven of his eight matches so far. Dave Chisnall has become a stronger player over the last twelve months but he has a poor record against Taylor and after a strong start, has lost two of his last three Premier League matches.
Stephen Bunting v Kim Huybrechts
This is an elimination decider between the Premier League’s two debutants. Huybrechts has fought hard, but has picked up just three points and is bottom of the table, knowing that even a win on Thursday might not be enough. He won his last match against Stephen Bunting last year,
but Bunting goes into this match in better form. He recovered from a poor start to the season to beat Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall and is a solid bet at 7/5 to win this one.
Adrian Lewis v Peter Wright
Once again, Adrian Lewis has struggled in an event where he hasn’t made much impression, aside from a runner-up finish in 2011. He’s been well beaten in three of his last four going into this match. By contrast, opponent Peter Wright has recovered from two early-season thrashings to earn draws with Taylor and van Gerwen.
The head-to-head record is even but Wright has won three of his last four against Lewis and can take this one at odds of 8/5.
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Raymond van Barneveld will have the advantage of playing last so will know exactly what he needs to do to avoid elimination, and may not even need to win this game to survive. Gary Anderson is in top form at the moment as he tries to close the gap on van Gerwen and has the edge on Barney in the big matches, so should win this, although his likely dominance is reflected in a price of 8/13.