Newly-crowned UK Open champion Michael van Gerwen will look to extend his unbeaten run in this year’s Premier League to six weeks against Phil Taylor in Nottingham on Thursday evening.
Dave Chisnall – the league’s early leader – takes on Stephen Bunting, while defending champion Raymond van Barneveld clashes with James Wade.
Adrian Lewis has the chance to condemn Gary Anderson to a third TV defeat in a week, before Kim Huybrechts rounds off the night against UK Open finalist Peter Wright.
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
Fresh from another TV title, van Gerwen comes into this showdown as the form horse in world darts. The Dutchman was held to a draw by Wright in Exeter last week, but it was their post-match fracas which stole the headlines, while Taylor overturned an early 4-1 deficit to defeat Wade.
Both are near the peak of their powers at the moment meaning a close affair here is likely. Taylor holds a 26-11 career advantage over van Gerwen but the latter has only been beaten once in their five Premier League encounters. Taylor, however, has prevailed in their last two meetings on TV.
Averages north of 100 should be expected, hence 12-darters will probably be required to break throw. Van Gerwen’s scoring has been heavier and more consistent of late, an edge that makes him a narrow favourite ahead of this contest.
Prediction: van Gerwen 7-5 Taylor
Stephen Bunting v Dave Chisnall
Bunting and Chisnall will begin the evening’s action in a repeat of their UK Open bout at the weekend – which Bunting won 9-6. Chisnall has been superb so far in this competition, topping the table with nine points, and he averaged over 110 in beating Anderson a week ago.
Meanwhile, Bunting has started to regain some confidence lately, backing up his first Premier League win over Lewis with a run to the last four at the UK, before losing 10-0 to Wright. His victory over Chisnall in Minehead will encourage him ahead of their match in Nottingham, and with only four nights remaining until the bottom two are eliminated, the Liverpudlian could do with some points to break clear of the four-way tie for bottom.
It will be tough for Bunting to match Chisnall’s scoring power though, and providing the league leader doesn’t miss doubles – as he did at the weekend – he should secure another win.
Prediction: Chisnall 7-3 Bunting
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
After losing to Chisnall in Exeter and suffering a horror loss to Mervyn King at the UK Open – he missed 13 match darts – Anderson aims to get back to winning ways this week against Lewis, who has also had a disappointing week.
World champion Anderson is currently fourth in the table with six points while Lewis has managed four, despite winningly only once (against van Barneveld) in five outings. The Scot leads their Premier League head-to-head 3-2, most famously beating Lewis in the 2011 final, and they have drawn three times.
Anderson’s doubling has been haunting him recently and failure to hit them early could see him struggle again. However, Lewis will have to improve on his 91 average against Bunting to punish him. It’s unlikely he’ll play that poorly again though, therefore this should be close.
Prediction: Anderson 6-6 Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Van Barneveld looked uninterested in his 9-1 hammering by Wright at the UK Open and looks a shadow of the man who has won the world championship five times. His Premier League defence has also yet to kick-start and he finds himself joint-last after five weeks.
Minehead was not the most lucrative of weekends for Wade either who bowed out in the last 16 to eventual semi-finalist Andrew Gilding. Licking his wounds from a frustrating loss to Taylor last Thursday, a fragile van Barneveld presents Wade with a good opportunity to capture two points.
With van Barneveld seemingly more concerned about battling his mind rather than his opponent, a solid showing from Wade could be all he requires to win. Much depends on which van Barneveld turns up however, and if he plays like he did to dismantle Lewis 9-3 at the UK, he may win just as convincingly.
Prediction: Wade 7-5 van Barneveld
Kim Huybrechts v Peter Wright
Huybrechts sealed his first Premier League success in Exeter but faces a difficult task if he is to notch another in Wright. The Belgian reached the last 16 at the UK Open where he was beaten by van Gerwen, while Wright claimed a stunning victory over Taylor before coming unstuck in the final against Huybrechts’ victor.
With both footing the league table, defeat for either could see them cut adrift from the pack, a perilous position with Judgment Night a mere three weeks away. Wright is the only man yet to win a match in the tournament but he has drawn his last three games.
Huybrechts looks to have become comfortable with the Premier League arenas, which suggests he will turn in another decent performance. Still, Wright must fancy his chances of picking up a first league win and building on what has been an impressive few weeks.
Prediction: Wright 7-4 Huybrechts