The 2020 Premier League resumes tonight at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as a five-month hiatus ends with six consecutive nights of league fixtures behind closed doors. Our co-hosts Alex Moss and Burton DeWitt make their picks…
Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
Alex: I think out of the five games this is one of the most difficult to call. These two met in that epic semi-final at the World Matchplay last month, which finished 18-16 to Gary Anderson. It’s probably one of the games Michael Smith will look back on in years to come and say how did he not get over the line. Smith is going in to get revenge and Gary, even though he got to the final at the Matchplay, he said he wasn’t very happy with how he played during the week and how his darts were going in. We’ve had a bit of a break since the Matchplay, the best part of a month, what work has Gary put in over the last four or five weeks? I’m just giving the edge to Michael Smith, 7-4.
Burton: I’m in agreement. I think of that epic semi-final as four different matches. In the initial phase, neither of them played near their best and Gary opened up a five-leg lead. The middle phases, Michael Smith raised his game and got back into it, then Gary re-raised his game, not that Michael Smith dropped off, but Gary Anderson threw some of his best legs of the tournament to get back up by five legs. The last phase both played really well, Michael Smith came back again, but Gary Anderson just got over the line. It was four matches for the price of one, which we won’t get this time as it’s not a race to 17, but to six or seven. I think Michael Smith is more confident coming out of the World Matchplay than Gary Anderson. He showed a lot of nerve to get back into that match twice and I think he’ll come in confident and put in a display. I’m going 7-3, Michael Smith, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the bull and it’s 7-2.
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Burton: I thought Rob Cross would get a scalp somewhere over these first three nights to assure himself of survival, and I think this might be where it comes. I’m not going for the win, but I think it’ll be a 6-6 draw. I think Cross has struggled since that World Championship semi-final against van Gerwen, but this is when you want to play him, the first game before he really gets going over the week. I don’t think Cross is playing at the level to beat him, even if van Gerwen is a bit rusty, but I think Cross gets a point from the match, and it might just be enough to see him into the second half of the season.
Alex: I’m not as brave, I’m going van Gerwen, 7-3. Looking at the head to head, it is very one sided, 18 wins for van Gerwen and three for Cross. One of those wins for Cross was that World Championship semi-final a couple of years ago, but since then he’s only beat him once on TV, in a World Series final in Brisbane. Since then they’ve played five times on TV and van Gerwen has won all five. The leg differential is 44-14 in his favour, so it’s quite one sided in that respect. I’ve got to go with Michael to hit the ground running with a win.
Nathan Aspinall v Gerwyn Price
Burton: Very important match for Gerwyn Price to assure himself of survival, but more importantly keep himself in the race for finals night, wherever it’s going to be. For Nathan Aspinall, still currently in fourth position, he needs to keep pace with the people in front of him and Peter Wright, who is just behind him. Gerwyn Price was a bit unfortunate in the first part of the season, three draws to start before finally getting a win. He’s been playing at a fairly good standard, but hasn’t been getting the results. I think this will be the first of many results for him in Milton Keynes. I’m going 7-3, Price.
Alex: You’re absolutely right, this is a big game. It’s between two players that had very disappointing World Matchplays. Ok, Nathan lost to the eventual winner Dimitri van den Bergh, but he didn’t look happy about how he was playing. Price also went out in the first round, he was one of the big seeds to fall in the first round. Both are going back to Milton Keynes with a point to prove, and both are looking to do something they’ve never done before, and that’s qualify for the top four and the play-offs. These two do provide lots of great games. The head to head is a little one sided at first glance, 8-4 to Price, but you take out those three games before they played at the World Championship a couple of years ago and it’s 5-4 to Price. So in recent times it has been very close between the two of them. Gerwyn Price has been the draw specialist and I’m going for another draw, 6-6 between these two.
Daryl Gurney v Chris Dobey
Alex: All but one of Daryl Gurney’s games have gone the distance in the Premier League, a lot of them it’s ended up in a draw or a defeat, but I’m going in the other direction and for Daryl to get the win. It’s an important game for him. If he doesn’t get the two points in this game then it’s going to be very difficult for him to avoid being eliminated on Judgement Night a few days later. The Handicappers’ Nightmare makes a winning start to close the gap on Rob Cross to one point, I’m going 7-5, Gurney.
Burton: I was thinking exactly the same thing. Daryl really struggled before the break, and if anyone benefited from the four months off it was him. He lifted his game since the break. Ok, he didn’t win any of the Summer Series events, but he had a quarter-final and a semi-final and six or seven 100+ averages. He had only two the year before in those events. Chris Dobey has struggled a bit since his breakthrough year last year, and this game is more for him to show he deserves this invite. I don’t think he’s playing at the level he was a year ago, I’m going 7-4, Gurney.
Peter Wright v Glen Durrant
Alex: I’m going down the middle with this one, 6-6, draw. It’s a big week for Glen Durrant. If he wants to be top of the table at the end of this week he needs to get some points in these first couple of games, and against some big names. He got a win against Peter Wright at the World Matchplay last month, so Peter will be out for revenge. Glen was on our show last week and said he’s looking to try a different setup, moving away from the pear shape flights. Will it go pear shaped for him? Who knows, I’m going 6-6.
Burton: Going off his results from the first third of the season, a draw might just be his results going pear shaped. He was one of, if not the, standout performers before the break in the Premier League. Peter Wright was a little bit inconsistent, but started to get his mojo with consecutive wins before the interruption. I think Glen is going to be buoyed by being top of the Premier League. It’s not often you see Middlesbrough even in the Premier League, let alone at the top of it in August, unless of course it could be just one game into the season. This is six games in and I think Glen stays there another night. I’m going 7-4, Durrant.