The 2019 Premier League of Darts returns to Exeter for Night 4 of the season and several players already under some pressure to get their campaign going. We were pretty stiff with a couple of our plays last week, with most matches going down to the wire. It seems this year’s Premier League is as even as ever, with perhaps the exception of Michael van Gerwen who is clearly several rungs above the next best.
The story of the week in the world of darts has been the back-to-back wins by Gerwyn Price in the Players Championship over the weekend. Looking at the results and it seems that Price did have a favourable draw on both occasions, with the likes of Peter Wright, Michael Smith, Raymond van Barneveld and Mensur Suljovic all falling in the first round on Sunday. Still, you can only beat who they put in front of you.
When you delve deeper into the stats you can see that Price played some superb darts with 10 ton-plus averages in his 14 wins over the weekend. That’s the sort of form that will beat most players in the world.
Price is undefeated in the Premier League this season with a win and two draws – the latest with a stunning comeback against James Wade. Price is the sort of player who thrives on confidence and clearly the "boo machines" in the audience aren’t putting him off in the slightest. He comes up this week against “contender” Luke Humphries. The number 56 in the world is a player on the rise, reaching the quarter-finals at this year’s World Championship. However the bright lights of the Premier League will be a new experience, and given the incredible form of Price, it’s very hard to see an upset coming here. Happy to whack Price to win, or you could even take the -2.5 handicap.
The second match of the night sees Daryl Gurney taking on Rob Cross. It’s been contrasting form from these two with Gurney backing up a good win over Glen Durant with an excellent win against Michael Smith. Meanwhile Cross put in a shocker against MVG last week and was almost whitewashed, which means that the odds are pretty close in this one. Has Gurney elevated his game to the point where he can now start to win these sorts of matches? Was last week just a blemish for Cross, who was otherwise pretty solid in the first two weeks? It’s a tough one to call, so I think this will be a match that goes the distance. Let’s make a small play on the over 11.5 legs.
Mensur Suljovic will be looking for his first win of the season when he takes on Peter Wright. Suljovic hasn’t been too flash this season with two draws in matches he probably should be winning if he’s going to stay out of the relegation zone this season. It’s not going to be easy for him here against "Snakebite". Wright keeps changing up his darts setup which is beyond frustrating but his form isn’t too bad. To take a point from both Rob Cross and Michael Smith is a good result, and then he pulled out a tough win against contender Steve Lennon last week. One point to note is that Wright has been very slow to start in all of his matches this season, so if you like Suljovic then take a look at the markets for the score after 4 or 6 legs for a cheeky bet. But we’re getting a great price on Wright to get the win here so happy to stick with him to remain undefeated. Best bet!
Michael van Gerwen takes on James Wade in what should be a thrilling encounter. I really think if Wade is back to his best, he’s one of the few in this league that can push MVG this season. Wade did let Gerwyn Price off the hook last week in a match he should’ve won, but given Price’s recent form, perhaps that’s a better result that it looked. Meanwhile MVG continues to roll on and he was superb against Rob Cross last week. Such was his dominance, he was angry at himself when he missed out on the 7-0 result! There’s not a lot of value on the match betting, so we’re going to make a similar play as last week and back the averages of MVG’s opponent. Wade is averaging 101.31 across his first three games of the Premier League, which is second only to MVG this season. Wade’s scoring is usually his let down but he’s smashed out the equal highest number of 180s this season and his checkouts are at a season-high of 47.22%. With MVG in good form, that is usually a boost to his opponent’s average, so given all of the above I’m happy to take the over 96.5 average line for Wade.
The final match of the evening is Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld. Statistically, these two are the worst performing players in the Premier League this season, with Smith finding himself slumped on the bottom of the table. He hasn’t had the easiest of draws with matches against MVG, Wright and Gurney so far this season, but he would’ve liked more than one point for his efforts so far. His average of 95.34 and checkout percentage of 38.10% are both well down on his 2018 Premier League form, so he’ll be looking to bounce back here. Barney is also seeking his first win of the season, but he did get the crowd going with an exciting comeback draw against Suljovic last week. He looked much better last week when he was smiling and relaxed, so watch for him to start to have a bit more fun moving forwards to try and turn his form around. Barney’s average of 91.86 and checkout percentage of 33.33% are well down on what’s required for the Premier League so it’s hard to see where his first win will come from. This match is a must-win for Smith and happy to back him here.
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