The waiting is over – it’s judgement time for two players at the Echo Arena in Liverpool with Mensur Suljović and Peter Wright both facing a desperate fight for survival to avoid being eliminated from the competition.
Premier League Darts – Liverpool
Gerwyn Price’s fate has already been sealed after a 7-2 defeat to Michael Smith left him with no room for manoeuvre at the bottom of the table, and the Welshman will simply be playing for pride in the first tie of the evening as he takes on Simon Whitlock. The Wizard has stuttered in recent weeks after a blistering start to his Premier League Darts campaign and will be hoping to regain some much-needed momentum ahead of Phase 2.
The second clash of the evening in Liverpool sees an old stager take on a young pretender, as perennial darts circuit favourite Raymond van Barneveld locks horns with Michael Smith. It’s the 27-year-old who will be looking to put a marker down here as he continues to chase down Michael van Gerwen at the top of the table. Barney will be looking to bounce back after losing to his fellow Dutchman 7-2 last week.
One player coming into form at just the right time is Gary Anderson, who seems to be enjoying a new lease of life in this competition after back-to-back victories against Simon Whitlock and Mensur Suljović. The Scot faces a tough fight to maintain his current Play Offs berth in Liverpool as he goes up against Rob Cross, who will be looking to make amends for his surprise 7-5 reverse to struggling Daryl Gurney in Belfast.
Cross will be hoping that defeat was a temporary setback primarily linked to taking on Gurney in front of a partisan home crowd as he looks to close the gap on MVG. With five wins preceding last week’s defeat, it would be foolish to rule out the reigning PDC World Champion turning things around on more neutral ground.
It might be too little, too late for the maverick Mensur Suljović. He looks destined for elimination unless he can turn the form book upside down and earn a surprise victory over an unrelenting Michael van Gerwen, who currently looks every inch a three-time champion of this competition. MVG comfortably brushed aside old rival Barney last week and will be looking to make it seven in a row in Premier League Darts up against the out-of-sorts Austrian. Suljović will cling on to the fact he defeated MVG at the Players Championship in Dublin last year – can he pull a rabbit out the hat in Liverpool?
Finally, Peter Wright will face his elimination reckoning in the final fixture of the evening as he takes on a rejuvenated Daryl Gurney, who enjoyed a spectacular night in Belfast in defeating Rob Cross. Wright may be able to relax a little, however, if van Gerwen makes light work of ninth-placed Suljovic before the colourful Scotsman even steps up to the oche.
Judgement Night – April 5
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Gary Anderson v Rob Cross
Mensur Suljović v Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright
Key stats from Night Eight
Highest 3 Dart Average: Michael van Gerwen – 104.47
Highest checkout: Michael Smith – 160
Most 180s: Daryl Gurney – 9
Total 180s: 36
|1||Michael van Gerwen||8||7||0||1||29||14|
|6||Raymond van Barneveld||8||3||2||3||-2||8|
April 12 – FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
April 18 – Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam*
April 19 – Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam
April 26 – Manchester Arena, Manchester
May 3 – Arena Birmingham, Birmingham
May 10 – BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
May 17 – O2, London (Play Offs)
* Additional night in Rotterdam due to cancelled event at Exeter in early March
All image sources from PA Images