Get round ours, lid; it’s the Premier League Darts in Liverpool.
The M&S Bank Arena, on the banks of the Mersey, plays host to another gripping night of Premier League Darts action. It’s also sport being played in front of a big crowd – enjoy that while it lasts.
Top vs bottom
Liverpool was the scene of the last Premier League Darts nine-darter, until Michael Smith ended the drought in Dublin. The Bully Boy followed victory over Daryl Gurney with a win against Michael van Gerwen in Exeter, and now he sits second in the league. It’s looking rosy for Smith at the moment.
Peter Wright’s still in the throes of inconsistent form, but a scintillating win over Nathan Aspinall could set him on the path to the top four. It’ll be a big battle for those spots, and Smith will be in no mood to hand his over.
It’s top versus bottom in the second tie. Even with a fair way to go until Judgement Night, let alone the end of the season, Glen Durrant and Daryl Gurney are already getting an idea of where their ambitions lie. Duzza is top of the tree, and can plot a course for the play-offs. He’ll be wary that matches against Messrs Wright, van Gerwen and Cross follow this.
Gurney, meanwhile, will remain bottom after Night Six unless there’s a big swing in legs between him and Rob Cross. Only one player will exit the Premier League Darts, and bar a big change, it’s looking likely to be Superchin who departs. He has four matches left to save himself – to quote a classic football cliche, they’re four finals. Gurney happens to be fairly good at finals, in his defence.
Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price last met all of four days ago, a fair bit further south. The two darting behemoths locked horns in the UK Open final, and it was Mighty Mike who came out on top again. Bar a couple of exceptions, it’s still the Dutchman who holds all the cards in this rivalry.
Both players lost their Premier League Darts fixtures last week, and so this is as much about righting the ship as getting one over on each other. But Price in particular has a point to prove; after all, more ruthless finishing would’ve seen the UK Open trophy end up in his hands.
Stephen Bunting’s career has had many ups and downs. His last Premier League Darts outing in Liverpool was a bit of both; it featured a chance to impress his fellow Merseysiders, but ended in a mauling at the hands of Phil Taylor and a personal slump. But that was five years ago, and it’s a different Bullet now. He arrives as a challenger with no pressure on him whatsoever, beyond his own ambition to impress.
Rob Cross, meanwhile, is second-bottom and needs results. After Luke Humphries’ historic win in Exeter, could lightning strike twice for the Premier League Darts challengers? Cross will hope that his UK Open win over Bunting at the weekend is a precursor for their Liverpool clash.
Anderson hoping for reversed fortunes
On paper, Nathan Aspinall’s had a bad week. Defeat to Peter Wright a week ago was followed by losing his UK Open crown. But in context, there’s not much to worry about. Wright was simply sensational; Minehead conqueror Michael van Gerwen wasn’t too shabby either. The Asp sits third in the Premier League Darts table and is probably one win from confirming his continued participation.
You get the feeling that Gary Anderson’s still feeling his way back into the rigours of this competition. Performances across the Premier League Darts season to date have varied wildly in quality, the defeat to Luke Humphries in particular descending into farce as his finishing abandoned him at the end. High-quality darts are never far away when the Flying Scotsman’s about, however; Aspinall will have to watch out for the bounceback.
Premier League Darts 2020 schedule
Night Six, Liverpool
19:15 Michael Smith v Peter Wright
19:50 Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant
20:25 Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
21:00 Rob Cross v Stephen Bunting [challenger]
21:35 Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
Author: Ed McCosh