Wayne Mardle previews Premier League Darts in Leeds
6 March 2018, 17:08
It's back! Premier League Darts returns on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Action, featuring a high-profile clash between Rob Cross and Michael Smith. Wayne Mardle looks into his crystal ball...
The visit to the First Direct Arena in Yorkshire includes world champion Cross playing former world youth champion and current Premier League leader Smith, with the pair having also recently clashed in a thriller at the World Championship.
Michael van Gerwen will take on Australian ace Simon Whitlock, Peter Wright plays Mensur Suljovic, Gerwyn Price meets Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson takes on Daryl Gurney in the other ties in Leeds.
Wayne runs the rule over five cracking tungsten contests, live on Sky Sports Action from 7pm.
Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock
Forget the weekend when Michael underperformed and got beat by Dutch rival Jeffrey de Zwaan at the UK Open. I think Van Gerwen just gets back on the horse and averages 103 again, which is his Premier League average this year. Simon isn't playing badly, and he's been taking his chances well, but he'll get limited chances against Van Gerwen and will feel the pressure.
Gerwyn Price v Raymond van Barneveld
I thought Price played really well at the UK Open at the weekend and I thought he played well under pressure with his rhythm looking good. That isn't the man we're seeing in the Premier League, we're seeing a man who is panicking, and falling through one week to the next in a negative way. I'm hoping that the way he played at the UK Open can be a catalyst for better performances.
Peter Wright v Mensur Suljovic
I don't know what way to take Wright at the moment. He looked a million dollars against Gary Anderson a few weeks ago, but then looked mediocre at the UK Open with the changing of the darts happening again. I don't think he knows where his game is. Suljovic didn't play in Minehead, so he had a bit of time away and can be a menace.
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
Anderson did at the UK Open what he hasn't done for probably a couple of years and that is win when he's not 100 per cent and this is something that Gurney is currently going through. Anderson is getting by on his B-game which started a couple of weeks ago against Van Gerwen. He started playing great and now he's near enough at the top of his game.
Rob Cross v Michael Smith
This should be a good match. As you know I'm a big fan of Michael Smith and at the UK Open he created a chance for himself in the draw but he could not find the form he needed at the right time.
Wayne Mardle was speaking to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza. The 2018 Premier League heads to the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event from 9.45pm. Ten weeks of tungsten action will then continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
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(c) Sky News 2018: Wayne Mardle previews Premier League Darts in Leeds