Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round-Up, looking ahead to tonight’s action in the Premier League. This week, the players have made the trip across the Irish Sea to Dublin, where the 3Arena is our venue, William O’Connor the invited challenger, and the postponement of a Six Nations match due to coronavirus is something we’re just not going to talk about, apparently.
The Premier League table is taking shape although, with three matches each under their belts, the players will feel there is still time for those who are bottom to move to the top and vice versa. This will certainly be the hope for Gary Anderson, whose present place in the table is just one spot off the bottom, and not at all where he would have hoped to be on his return to the competition after spending last year’s Premier League on the sidelines with a bad back.
We’ll dive in on the key ties in a moment, looking at what the bookmakers are offering on the Thursday night action across the water. In addition, we’ll digest some of the latest news from the world of darts.
Price looks to carry Players Championship success to Premier League
Sixth vs Seventh in a league of nine players – it doesn’t exactly make the heart leap if you characterise the evening’s biggest showdown that way, does it? Nonetheless, those are the bare facts about this encounter between Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright. These two clashed after Wright knocked off Price in the World Championship semi-final, and Wright won again at the weekend in the Players Championship 5 final; their first meeting since that battle. The Welshman, who came off worse at the Ally Pally, comes into this contest with confidence high, however, after winning the Players Championship 6. His victim in the final was one Michael van Gerwen, who Price faced five times last season without a single win.
Wright, of course, knows about bearing MvG in finals, because that is precisely what he did at the World Championship. Although neither player has been at their best in the Premier League so far, these two are probably the next best players in the world behind the Dutch Master – and whoever wins here will have a strong claim to be #2. Wright, who has generally had the upper hand recently, has odds of 6/5 with William Hill against 8/5 for Price. We’d back the Scotsman – this match could get testy, and he’s the more likely to keep his cool across 12 legs.
Straightforward win for MvG(?)
Michael van Gerwen led this competition for much of last season and then brushed aside Rob Cross in the final: however, over the past year he’s shown some signs of vulnerability in the top competitions. MvG lost last week’s outing against Premier League newcomer Nathan Aspinall, and as a result comes into this week’s action in second place – trailing former BDO champion Glen Durrant on leg difference. Looking at the match card, this week should be a simple victory for the Dutchman – he faces challenger William O’Connor, who is ranked 37 in the world.
However, Premier League fans will remember last year and Aberdeen – the venue where MvG faced John Henderson, himself a challenger in front of a home crowd. The match ended 6-6 to the delight of a raucous BHGE Arena. O’Connor is a Limerick man, but one can presume a healthy band of fans will make their way north to the capital, and allied to those already there will make a fearsome racket. With MvG feeling about as welcome as Leo Varadkar in Dublin, it may be a lot to expect O’Connor to take the win; however, 5/1 on the draw with 888 might well be worth a punt.
Top of the table clash for Aspinall and Durrant
By all means, Michael van Gerwen might emerge from this season with his hands still around the Premier League trophy, and regain his world title to reassume dominance in world darts, but things are fun right now, so why spoil them by climbing back down to reality? Looking at the top of the table, it’s cheering to see two debutants either side of Mighty Mike on the podium. Aspinall is currently third after his win over MvG, and top spot belongs to Durrant. Unfortunately, only one of the two insurgents can win tonight, as they are playing against one another.
There are some key differences between these two; Aspinall is just 28 while his opponent will mark his 50th birthday this November, for one. What unites them, though, is that they’re making the Premier League thrilling to talk about, and an unbeaten Durrant is proving that the BDO-PDC pipeline works in delivering top-class players to the top tournaments. Aspinall comes into this match as favourite, but we’re backing narrative structure to win out here and give Durrant the points, keeping him in the driving seat for at least another week. Tournament sponsors Unibet will give you 8/5 on that outcome.