This week sees the Premier League Darts roadshow hit Belfast in Northern Ireland. We have had mostly horse racing on the blog so far, but from now on look out for darts, golf and F1 previews. Daryl Gurney, proudly sponsored by TXODDS, will be looking to get a win on the board on his home patch. He takes on Rob Cross, while there will be no shortage of aggression on the oche when MVG takes on Gerwyn Price. Our darting expert James Punt has had a look at the matches and you can check his Premier League Darts Belfast tips and preview below…
Premier League Darts Belfast: Mensur Suljovic vs. James Wade
Two players who have not been at the top of their game in recent weeks. Some of that will be down to tiredness. There has been a lot of travelling and playing for the players in the Premier League. On top of travelling to Berlin and Rotterdam for two nights, there have been two Euro Tour events in Germany and a player’s championship double header in Wigan all within two and a half weeks. That is a gruelling work load and it will take its toll.
Suljovic is in decent form, winning six of his last ten but he last lost three of his last four which suggests he ran out of gas. His record with Wade is good. He has won ten of their fifteen matches and their three matches in the last 12 months. They played twice last month and it was Suljovic who won both 6-2 and 7-3 in the PL.
The Machine Has Flattered To Deceive
Wade continues to confound. He is playing some great darts but just not converting that into a lot of wins. The Machine has won five of his last ten, drawn two and lost three. He hit a nine dart leg in the German Darts Championship but ended up losing the match 5-6 to Darren Webster despite a 105 average.
It is hard to back either player with great confidence but the odds on Suljovic look too big. He is available at 2.75 which given his very recent comfortable wins over Wade doesn’t make any sense.
Premier League Darts Belfast: 2 points Mensur Suljovic to win @ 2.75 with Unibet
Premier League Darts Belfast: Michael Smith vs. Peter Wright
Smith took the weekend off and withdrew from the German Darts Championship so that he could be at his son’s birthday party. That may have been a very smart move. He didn’t have more travelling to do and could switch off and not think about more darts for a few days. He was clearly just not enjoying it in the last few weeks. His body language was more like it was a couple of years ago and that is not good. He was still throwing a lot of good darts but he was giving up a bit too easily and beating himself as much as his opponents. He has won just three of his last ten matches and if he is to win this match, he will have to hope that his short break has recharged the batteries.
Peter Wright is another player who just looked very flat in Germany at the weekend. He pointed out that the schedule was tiring and the Euro tour format means playing up to four matches on a Sunday and on the back of the Premier League, it is just a bit too much. He had to go and play as he was defending a big pot of prize money and his world ranking.
Wright Has An Edge In The Head To Head
It didn’t go well and he was knocked out by Adrian Lewis in the quarter final. Daryl Gurney went on to win the title and that means that Wright has slipped down to number 5 in the world. His recent form is ok, five wins from ten with a draw and four defeats. He now has to fly back to the UK, have a couple of days with his poorly wife before flying out to Belfast for this PL match. Not much time to reboot the mental computer. Wright has won three of his last five matches with Smith with one draw and one win for Smith. Overall Wright has a 15-8 H2H record over Smith.
This looks to be about whether Wright can go to the well one more time and lift his game? Will Smith be refreshed after his weekend off? It wasn’t like he has been away lying on a sun lounger for a week or two, just the weekend off. Now it is straight back to the PL were things are not going well. He sits bottom of the table, four points off the play off places with seven to play before the final cut is made. He can barely afford another loss so the pressure remains fully on.
Wright isn’t in a much better position, just 1 point above Smith and he hasn’t won a PL match for a month. This is a crunch match for both players. Yes it has been a very open Premier League and a couple of wins can make a big difference but time is ticking away and a defeat would make things very difficult for these two players.
Wright Looks The Value
Smith has been made the 2.30 favourite to win this match which again looks strange. Seven defeats from his last ten matches and the 2.30 favourite? He has an inferior H2H record both in the short and long term. OK Wright is not in great form either but not as bad as Smith’s recent record. Wright can be backed at 2.56 with the draw at 5.00.
Snakebite has had four draws already form the nine matches played so far, Smith just the one. Wright is a bit more determined than Smith, he doesn’t give up on a match but he has been very inconsistent even within a single match, starting slow and trying to play catch up or starting well and then going off the boil. A draw has to be a realistic chance here but I would have to favour Wright and hope that Smith’s little break won’t have been enough to sort his head out.
Premier League Darts Belfast: 1 point Peter Wright to win @ 2.56 with Marathon Bet
Premier League Darts Belfast: Rob Cross vs. Daryl Gurney
This is a repeat of their match in Belfast in last year’s PL which Gurney won 7-5. It was a very tough match for Cross who had the home crowd being very partisan and very noisy. He can expect the same again, maybe even louder but at least he is better equipped to deal with it. He remains in good from with seven wins from ten and he has been hitting some big averages. If he can get into the match early, get a break of throw he may be able to quieten the crowd down a little but he does face a difficult mission.
Daryl Gurney arrives for his big party as the newly crowned German Darts Championship winner and he is now the world number three. He came back from the precipice in the Premier League with wins over MVG in Berlin and back to back wins over Barney and Suljovic in Rotterdam last week. So from second favourite to be relegated he now sits 4th in the table and a real contender for the play offs.
Superchin Is Flying Right Now
Gurney has won nine of his last ten matches and he has played twenty matches in two and a half weeks. That is a heavy schedule and if this match was being played anywhere else on the PL rota then I would fear for a defeat. However, even if he is fried after all that travelling and all those matches he arrives for his BIG match of the year with a another PDC title under his belt and best ever ranking of 3rd in the World.
Northern Ireland is a small country of some 1.7million people but it has the habit of producing a lot of great sportspeople. The public get behind their stars in a serious way and Gurney will have a God like status on Thursday. Think Hendo in Aberdeen on steroids. It will be very loud and Cross will inevitably feel a bit lonely up on stage.
Daryl Gurney has a pretty good record with Cross. They have both won four of their eight previous matches but in the last 12 months it is 4-2 to Gurney. They have played very recently of course. Gurney brushed Cross aside in Germany on Sunday with a 6-2 win which made up for the 7-1 drubbing Cross gave him in the Premier League five weeks ago.
This is the world number two playing the world number three. Their H2H record is tied; they both have a recent win over the other. The odds should be close. The algorithms will favour Cross due to his higher ranking but that gap has just shrunk to one place and we are playing this on home turf for Gurney.
Home Advantage Could Make The Difference
Daryl Gurney has been looking forward to returning to this venue ever since he beat Cross here last year. He loved it and getting back was a big motivating factor in his last three PL wins.
If crowd support alone could win the match it would be 6-0 to Gurney but of course it is not. Gurney is flesh and blood. He admits to being nervous and sometimes struggles to moderate his adrenaline. So playing in front of thousands of expectant fans brings its own pressure. You can want something too much and get tight but he coped well with it all last year and he is a more experienced player now.
Both players will be tired after a heavy schedule but Gurney can feed off the energy in the crowd and get an important win.
Premier League Darts Belfast: 2 points Daryl Gurney to win @ 3.20 with Boylesports
Premier League Darts Belfast: Michael van Gerwyn vs. Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwyn suffered a surprise defeat in Germany at the weekend. He lost 6-5 to Keegan Brown and he cannot have a single complaint about the result. Van Gerwen played brilliantly and averaged 109 but Brown played the perfect match. He averaged 104 which largely negated MVG’s heavy scoring and hit 6 out of 6 on his doubles. You can’t beat that.
So it was a defeat for MVG but was it down to poor form? Not at all. If anything it was a blessing in disguise. It allowed him to head home early and not have to play multiple matches on Sunday. He has had an extra day off to freshen up.
Price Yet To Beat MVG
Gerwyn Price is another player who has been playing tournament darts for the last three weeks. He reached the quarter final in Germany on Sunday before also losing to Keegan Brown. That made it five wins from his last ten which isn’t great form. But, there were signs in Germany that that Price was back to hitting that double top with more confidence. He was much better than he has been for a couple of weeks and he is still scoring heavily. In his last four matches he has two 102+ averages.
One of those was a 5-6 loss to MVG in the opening Euro Tour event. Price had a dart to win the match, to beat MVG for the first time in 15 attempts. It was for double top…and he missed. Van Gerwen then took out a ton plus finish to win the match and make it 15-0 in the career H2H.
It was so nearly another defeat for Van Gerwen who had a poor few weeks before that. He does go out of form for a few weeks every year but it rarely lasts long. However, had Price won that and then another defeat by Brown soon afterwards it would have shaken MVG. I guess he can accept a defeat to Brown as that was perfection and you can’t beat that but a loss to Price? That would have hurt.
Not Much Value To Be Found
MVG is in better form than Price and has a ridiculous H2H record over him but this may well be close. Price really wants to change that H2H record and his game is good enough to do it, so long as double 20 is being nailed. Does he really believe he will beat MVG? I suspect the way his game is going, he knows it’s only a matter of time.
MVG is the 1.33 favourite, Price the 7.50 outsider with the draw at 7.50. It is tempting to go with Price but I would prefer something nearer 10.00. Price has looked a bit flat recently but with signs that he is hitting tops again then he does have a chance.
Premier League Darts Belfast: No Bet