Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
A last gasp 6-5 victory over Joe Cullen saw Michael Smith register his first victory of the Premier League season last week, though he was unfortunate to encounter a rampant Michael van Gerwen in the semis to end any hope of being lifted off the bottom of the table. That win did seem to give him some momentum though as he reached the UK Open final at the weekend, beating the likes of Chris Dobey, Mensur Suljevic and Gerwyn Price en route to an agonising 11-10 defeat to Danny Noppert in the final. That should serve him well here though against an out of sorts Scot.
Defeat to James Wade in the opening round means Gary Anderson is level on points with Smith at the bottom, with his superior leg difference keeping him above the Englishman for the time being. Four defeats on the bounce though is not the form we expect of the Flying Scotsman. The most recent three of those have come against Peter Wright, Wade and van Gerwen, so it’s not entirely surprising. His averages remain in the high 90’s of late though, which are strong foundations, though momentum is with Bully Boy at the moment who’s looking to make it three wins from the last four against Anderson.
MICHAEL SMITH TO WIN
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
6-2 victories over Gerwyn Price and James Wade would have given Wright confidence heading into the final last week, though when van Gerwen is in that kind of form there’s little anyone can do. A 6-0 defeat for Wright on the night would have dented confidence a bit, though three extra points has catapulted him to the top of the table. A last 16 run at the UK Open at the weekend is nothing to write home about, though he’ll know defeat to Clayton here would see the Welshman leapfrog him and that should serve as enough motivation.
Clayton is still in a strong position to defend his title from last year, though Wright and van Gerwen are the two players you certainly don’t want to be chasing down. Clayton also reached the last-16 at the UK Open before defeat to Aussie Damon Heta, and while all his focus will now be back on this title defence, his recent record with Wright would suggest he may be on for another early exit this week. Indeed, this will be the fourth meeting of 2022 for these players, with Wright taking each of the previous three by an aggregate score of 19-4, while he also ran out a comfortable 11-6 winner in the Players Champs Finals back in November, so the handicap looks worth backing for Snake Bite.
PETER WRIGHT -2.5 LEGS
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Van Gerwen was in electric form in Exeter last week, storming to victory on the night by winning his three matches by an aggregate 18-3, which is absolutely exceptional when considering the quality of opponent faced. Defeat to Damon Heta at the UK Open is proving to be the norm, and we’d expect that to not affect the Dutchman too much.
A final run on night three was followed by a semis last week for James Wade, though he’s yet to really put his stamp on this competition so far. He sits in mid table at the moment and could go either way, and a victory here would give him a lot of confidence. He’s in decent form at the moment having won 14 of his last 20 matches, though when facing players of real quality he seems to fall short.
Van Gerwen has won nine of the last 10 meetings between these two, with not a single one of those going to a deciding set. With Mighty Mike’s rampant display last weekend not quite catapulting him to the top of the table, he’ll want to correct that here and we’d expect a comprehensive victory.
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN -2.5 HANDICAP
Joe Cullen v Gerwyn Price
It was an electric start to his debut Premier League campaign for Joe Cullen, though first round defeats in each of the last two evenings has seen him drop off the pace slightly. With a long way to go though, there’s no reason he can’t get himself back in the mix and he’s certainly shown he has the quality to do so. Having won 14 matches on the bounce, he’s now lost four of his last five including the last three in succession, and he’d certainly like to avoid this becoming a rut.
Gerwyn Price had struggled in the Premier League until he romped to victory on night three, before going on to win the first European Tour event of the year and looking in menacing form once again. Unfortunately for the Welshaman he couldn’t get past Peter Wright in the first round last week, and lost out to another Premier League opponent in Michael Smith at the UK Open quarters stage. That’s not a setback for Iceman though, and on the biggest stage is where he tends to prevail. Cullen has won each of the last three meetings between the two, and certainly shouldn’t be slept on, but Price looks to be in better form at the moment and those three defeats will only serve as extra motivation for him here.
GERWEN PRICE TO WIN
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