Welcome back to the OpenOdds Darts Round Up, which this week looks ahead to a Premier League date in Cardiff as the table starts to settle into two defined groups. At the top, there are the players that have a shot at the playoffs; at the bottom, a few names are detaching from the competitor group and beginning to recognise that for them, this year will be a learning experience. As we get to the cutting edge of this year’s campaign, something resembling championship form is emerging among a few of the competition’s elite.
Cardiff will also bring us the biggest match of the Premier League season so far, with the defending champion facing the man best placed to depose him. The home star of this week’s darts has a contest that he’ll be confident of winning, while two of the mid-table competitors will throw down, knowing that the winner will take a big step towards the knockout fixtures while the vanquished will be playing catch-up in a pretty major way. First, with the help of our Odds Comparison tool let’s take a look at what happened on the banks of the Mersey.
Cross nails Wright in competitive battle
Englishman Rob Cross may still be a distant second favourite for the Premier League title (he’s available at 4/1 with Betway), but his form is defying the expectations of bookmakers, with the M&S Bank Arena crowd seeing him notch up a seventh win in eight matches. Cross spent most of the preceding week confined to his sick bed due to an acute bout of tonsillitis, but it didn’t affect his darts as he raced out to leads of 3-0 and then 6-2 against straggler Peter Wright. Although the night saw the Scotsman deliver some of his best darts of the season, Cross still emerged victorious by an 8-5 margin.
The World Number Two now faces the biggest test of his recent form, with a big showdown against tournament favourite Michael van Gerwen. The Notorious MvG seems to have weathered a shaky few weeks and delivered a season’s-best average of 109.3 as he comfortably cast aside Michael Smith, who sits bottom of the table on just eight points. Cross is 14/5 with Dafabet to win the top-of-the-table clash – a result which would see him open up a three-point gap on the defending champion.
Price too steep for Suljovic
With attention turning towards Cardiff, the Premier League’s sole Welsh competitor will hope for the raucous backing of a home crowd this week. Gerwyn Price has given himself every chance of being in the mix come the end of the league fixtures, with a win over fellow contender Mensur Suljovic in Liverpool. Bouncing back from losing the first three legs to lead 4-3, the Austrian missed a pair of doubles which would have given him clear daylight, and that was all the encouragement Price needed to reel off four in a row, and then see out the match by eight legs to five.
Price now faces the struggling Michael Smith in front of the Motorpoint Arena crowd, knowing a win would keep him ahead of Suljovic and right in the thick of the top four. The home star is priced at 7/5 by Paddy Power, one of a number of bookmakers to have made Smith favourite for the showdown. Although the Englishman won the last head-to-head, a partisan crowd and an uplift in form for the Iceman mean he’s attractively-priced. Suljovic, for his part, faces an awkward tie with Daryl Gurney next.
Mid-table clash ends all-square
Gurney, who has had something of an up-and-down season, maintained his hopes of finishing in the top four by playing out a 7-7 draw with fellow mid-tabler James Wade. Both players had their chances to establish a winning lead, Gurney moving ahead by 3-1 and 5-3 before his opponent won three legs in a row. It was cat-and-mouse from there, both players winning their own throws to ensure a share of the spoils. Perhaps it could be considered a moral victory for Gurney, who lost their previous meeting 7-0. The Northern Irishman is 6/5 favourite with 888 to beat Suljovic, which could launch him back into the top four.
Wade, who sits third in the table, will be focused on trying to maintain that spot – van Gerwen, four points ahead, probably can’t be caught, but the wrong combination of results in Cardiff could see the Englishman fall from the play-off spots. Fortunately for Wade, he’s playing Peter Wright, who hasn’t won in his last six outings. However, perhaps as a nod to the 6-6 draw they shared earlier in the campaign, Coral can’t separate the two men and have priced both at 11/8. If you can find an odds boost, that makes Wade spectacular value for this fixture – we don’t see Wright repeating his Week Seven heroics on current form.