Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
Having come in second to Nathan Aspinall in the inaugural PDC Home Tour during lockdown, Gary Anderson reached the final of the World Matchplay after just seven wins from 12 matches in the Summer Series. That run to the final last month saw victories over James Wade, Simon Whitlock and his opponent here, Michael Smith.
That narrow 18-16 semi-final victory, however, was Anderson’s first win against the Englishman in five head-to-heads dating back to the 2018 Premier League, and we’re not 100% convinced he’s showing the consistency to topple Bully Boy. Smith hasn’t exactly proved to be at the top of his game so far this year either. He’s yet to win an event in 2020, though final runs at the Masters and Belgian Darts Champs before the break shouldn’t be undermined. His results haven’t been as impressive of late, losing in the group stages of the Home Tour, while he only managed one quarter-final in the five Summer Series events.
Recent head-to-heads would be on Smith’s side, though it’s extremely difficult to split the two here and in a behind closed doors event the pressure shouldn’t mount on either player, so the draw looks worth a small punt.
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
This is another huge matchup, with reigning champion Michael van Gerwen restarting his Premier League campaign in second place, just behind Glenn Durrant. Mighty Mike hasn’t been as prolific this year as we’ve become accustomed to over his career, winning just one of his 11 tournaments between the World Championships and the Covid break. He’s looked sharp since then however, and although he didn’t participate in the Home Tour, he won two of the five Summer Series before a last 16 at the World Matchplay.
Rob Cross has had a poor year by his standards, reaching just one final and two quarters from his 19 events in 2020. He’s also won just one of his six Premier League matches so far as he sits down in eighth place. Furthermore, he’s lost each of his last seven matches against Van Gerwen by an aggregate 59-23 scoreline. He’s also lost all six of his matchups against the Dutchman in this competition, and this should be a pretty routine victory for the world number one.
Nathan Aspinall v Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall became the first ever winner for the PGA Home Tour during lockdown, which was just another huge victory in an already fantastic year for the young Englishman. That was his third title of 2020, while he also managed a semis and quarters run at the Summer Series. He’ll have been disappointed with a last 32 exit at the Matchplay, though he can draw on tournament form for this one. In just his first Premier League campaign, he’s already toppled the leaders Glen Durrant and Michael van Gerwen, though a defeat to Peter Wright and a draw with Gary Anderson has left him in danger of missing out on the play-offs.
Gerwyn Price is one of the players looking to force his way up the ladder after just one win from six matches so far has left him in seventh. He’s definitely capable of more and will be hoping the break will have left him rejuvenated and ready to make a charge for the top four. He’s reached six finals in his last thirteen tournaments, though in fairness five came before the layoff and he’s now lost 11 of his last 26 matches. Both players will be gunning for the win here, and our money’s with the Asp to hold his nerve.
Chris Dobey (c) v Daryl Gurney
Gurney lies rock bottom of the table having failed to pick up a single victory in his six matches so far. He gets the luxury of facing the Challenger in week seven however, and will play in the knowledge that anything other than a victory will end his slim hopes of qualification for the play-offs. It’s not as though he’s been played off the board by his opponents though, with five of his six matches so far going the distance, and we can see this one being a similarly tight encounter.
Chris Dobey is no walkover, and reached the last 16 of the World Championships at the end of last season. He’s unfortunately been unable to carry momentum through to this season and has reached just two quarter-finals from 18 events so far this year. Northern Irishman Gurney has claimed three of the four head-to-heads between the two since the beginning of 2017, with the last one finishing a narrow 6-5 to the world number seven and even if it’s close, he looks well worth getting behind, especially as he’s the only one with something to play for.
Peter Wright v Glenn Durrant
Before the Premier League started this season, if you were to say one of these players would be top of the ladder and the other was sitting outside the playoff spots, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was World Champion Peter Wright sitting pretty and cruising to the playoffs. Though Glenn Durrant’s four wins and a draw form six matches has him in pole position, and he knows a victory here will all but seal his fate.
Wright reached the last 16 in each of his five Summer Series events, winning one and reaching another final as he continues to prove his class. In fact, he’s fallen short of the last 16 just once from his last 19 tournaments going back to that World Championship victory, so we’d be surprised if he fell shot of the play-offs here. Snake Bite is level on points with Nathan Aspinall and Michael Smith in fourth, and knows a win here will stand him in good stead. He’s won 24 of his last 29 matches, though the most recent of those was defeat at the Matchplay, to Durrant himself.
The Englishman reached two quarter-finals in the Summer Series, and also managed a semis run at the Matchplay having defeated Wright en route. That was, however, his first win over Snake Bite in their last six meetings, and we’ve got to side with the Scot here at the prices.