It’s night 14 in the Betway Premier League and with just two rounds of matches to go, the race for the top four and a place in the play offs is hotting up. Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright are assured of their places in the final four, with the former just a point away from confirming his position at the top of the table.
The other two spots are in the balance, and going into night 14 in Sheffield it’s possible that any of the other six players could snatch the final two places. Gary Anderson is the most likely to join the top two as he currently sits third in the table with 16 points and a vastly superior leg difference to the chasing pack. A victory on Thursday night against James Wade should seal his place in the end-of-season tournament. Phil Taylor comes next in the table with 15 points, and he’ll be desperate to hang on to 4th spot in what is his last year in the Premier League. Raymond van Barneveld (14 points), Adrian Lewis (13) and Dave Chisnall (13) are the most likely to usurp the Power for that 4th spot, while James Wade (12) is bottom of the table and will need results to go in his favour to make the final four.
It was a topsy-turvy night last week in Birmingham as van Gerwen and Wright secured their play off places. Mighty Mike found himself 6-3 down in the opener to an inspired Dave Chisnall, but managed to fight back to claim a point with a 6-6 draw. The Dutchman was clearly annoyed with himself as he came out for his second game of the evening to whitewash Adrian Lewis 7-0, recording a 110.75 average in the process. Peter Wright beat Phil Taylor 7-3 in a match surprisingly low on quality, as both players hit sub-100 averages. It was enough to secure a top four place for Snakebite, but he’s three points adrift of MVG at the summit of the Premier League table with just two games to play.
Gary Anderson’s 7-4 win over Raymond van Barneveld was vital as it took the Flying Scotsman two points clear of Barney into third place. Adrian Lewis suffered a damaging evening on a night where he doubled up, losing both games to James Wade and van Gerwen. That’s left his play off hopes in tatters, but if he can take advantage of the already-qualified Peter Wright on Thursday night he will keep his chances alive.
James Wade v Gary Anderson
the Flying Scotsman can all but guarantee his play off spot with a win, and he will be all too aware that his final game of the season next week is against van Gerwen. Anderson will not want to be going into that match needing a result, and this is a great opportunity against bottom-of-the-table Wade.
Despite his lowly position, Wade put in good performance to beat Adrian Lewis 7-4 last week. His 53.85% checkout percentage proving the difference. However, he still only hit a three-dart average of 93.74 – below his own tournament average of 95.89. He’s also hit the least 180’s of all players in the Premier League with just 19 maximums, five short of Kim Huybrecht’s total of 24, even though the Belgian was eliminated at the halfway stage of the season.
Anderson possibly hasn’t had the results his performances have deserved this season, but it should be no surprise that he’s found his way into the top four. The Flying Scotsman has a tournament average of 102.88, second only to Michael van Gerwen. His checkout percentage of 40.82% is also second best for the season – behind, surprise, surprise, van Gerwen. A win against Wade will secure Anderson’s play off spot (barring a big leg difference turnaround), and take the pressure off next week’s final game.
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
The notion of a +3.5 leg handicap on Phil Taylor might have seemed crazy a few years ago, but the legend of the game is winding down his career. He has gone on record as saying this will be his final Premier League season, so he’ll be desperate to make it to the final four.
Van Gerwen has clearly been head and shoulders above the field for the last year or two, but there have been enough chinks in his armour this season to think Taylor has a chance here. MVG has failed to beat a -3.5 handicap ten times in his fourteen Premier League matches, and has had to fight back for a draw on more than one occasion. Of course, there is always the danger that he comes out in the sort of mood that saw him thrash Lewis 7-0 last week, but having already qualified, the pressure is off.
Taylor will need to tap into the pressure to raise his performance, and he faces another tough test next week against good friend Adrian Lewis. The Power will know that defeat here will probably take his play off fate out of his own hands, so one expects he will come out fired up and focused to put up a fight. Even if he does lose, he’s capable of taking the four legs required to make this bet a winner.
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall
Dave Chisnall is second bottom of the table with 13 points, but a revival in form over the last few weeks has kept his slim play off hopes alive. He’s hit 54 180’s this season, more than any other player, and knows that he needs to win here to have any chance of reaching the top four.
Van Barneveld has wobbled in the last few weeks, losing three in a row to Lewis, van Gerwen and Anderson. He’s still in a good enough position in 5th with 14 points though, and he too will know that a win here is essential for his top four aspirations. Barney’s hit 52 maximums this season, five ahead of next best van Gerwen with 47.
The pressure of the situation should focus both players, and we could be in for a high-scoring treat in this one.
Gary Anderson to beat James Wade
Thursday 4th May, 20:45 GMT
Phil Taylor +3.5 to beat Michael van Gerwen
Thursday 4th May, 21:30 GMT
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall – Over 7.5 180’s
Thursday 4th May, 20:00 GMT