Hit the Jackpot with Lewis
Carl Longhawn previews the latest round of Premier League Darts fixtures and fancies Adrian Lewis to beat Dave Chisnall.
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After a record-breaking crowd of around 11,000 in Leeds last week, Dublin takes its turn to host Premier League Darts on Thursday.
It's a city which has been very popular with players since joining the rota in 2012, largely due to the crowd being both knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. Wes Newton should have plenty of time on stage to take in the atmosphere as he has two matches this week and will be looking to seal his place beyond Judgement Night.
Newton was on the end of a 7-1 mauling at the hands of Phil Taylor last week, who looked back to his best both in performance and persona. Michael van Gerwen also continued his fine form by reeling off three legs in a row to defeat Gary Anderson 7-5 and now tops the league. For the second time this season, there were three draws in one night and it shows how close the competition is.
The line up of matches this week reflects this closeness, and here is my match-by-match verdict:
The Flying Scotsman lost nothing in defeat last week against van Gerwen and he continued his exceptional start to 2014 by winning yet another floor event this weekend. It's been a remarkable start to the year, prior to which Anderson had not recorded any tournament victories since October 2012. He carries a favourable head-to-head record against Newton into this meeting including a victory over him two weekends ago. Newton will find encouragement in his last two performances despite losing both matches and also the fact he beat Anderson when they met last year. However, it's hard to gauge how The Warrior will respond to both those defeats as well as the challenge of two matches in one night and this match doesn't appeal as a betting proposition.
Lewis admitted to getting nervous at the size of the crowd last week which was a strange comment for such an experienced player. He was guilty of missing too many doubles in the early going and did well to get a point but he will be keen to ensure he doesn't continue the trend of scruffy performances. Chizzy sensationally bust 80 when throwing for the win last week but the real problem was his darts on the important doubles. This has been a recurring theme for Chisnall in the past six months and with the pressure of elimination on his shoulders over the next two weeks it will be a test for him. The head-to-head record favours Chisnall but only one of their meetings was a TV contest which Lewis won comfortably. I think this can be repeated and Lewis is taken to cover a handicap of -2.5.
A clash of the top two in the league and a repeat of the World Championship final from January - quite a mouthwatering prospect. MVG showed his class last week by coming back from 5-4 down to beat Anderson 7-5 in a high-quality clash. He looks a very hungry competitor since his UK Open exit and that makes him a dangerous opponent this week - even more so than usual. Wright continued his unbeaten run in the competition by drawing with Raymond van Barneveld last week and it shouldn't be underestimated how much of an achievement this is. He will be a tough nut to crack for van Gerwen and will be keen to gain a degree of revenge for the World Championship defeat. MVG should be too strong for Wright but the odds about this aren't generous and it's not a match to get involved in.
The main event of the night and one that rarely disappoints. After a tough start to the year, Taylor looks to be on the comeback trail based on his performance last week and a second tour victory this weekend. His appearance at the weekend floor events shows his motivation to re-establish himself as the dominant force in the game. As for Barney, he continued his good start to the campaign with a solid draw against Wright where he was arguably unfortunate not to win. He hasn't beaten Taylor on TV since 2007 which is a statistic he will want to change. Barney hit three ton-plus checkouts last week and this match has produced the highest checkout for the night on four occasions since 2011. As such, it's worth chancing this game to produce the highest checkout on the night once more.
This is a must-win match for Whitlock as his inferior legs difference mean that anything other than two victories will likely result in him being eliminated after next week. Under any circumstances this would be a tough ask but when you consider Whitlock's poor form and recent results, it looks a step too far for him. How important this match will be for Newton depends on his performance in the opening encounter of the night, as such it is impossible to know. The unknown quantity of that makes this match unappealing to get involved with and is left as a watching brief.