The Unibet Premier League Darts season continues in Nottingham on Thursday night and we have match-by-match predictions, best bets and a suggested acca.
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Just when the world of darts had calmed down a little from Fallon Sherrock's history-making achievements in December, the Queen of the Palace returns to the televised stage to create yet landmark moment for women's darts.
The 25-year-old star will become the first female to compete in the Premier League as a 'Challenger' when she takes on debutant Glen Durrant and there can be little down that a bouncing Nottingham crowd will try their best to recreating the incredible atmosphere that inspired her to a pair of victories at the World Championship.
This has to go down as the headliner but the 'support act' of Gary Anderson v Peter Wright isn't bad either!
Premier League Night two: Thursday February 13
Click on the odds for more Sky Bet match markets
- TV Coverage: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Format: Maximum of 12 legs
- Venue: Nottingham
- Head-to-head: 3-2 (TV: 0-1)
- Meetings since start of 2019: 0-2 (TV: 0-1)
- PDC Titles Since Start of 2019: 2-3 (TV: 2-2)
- Career PDC Titles: 9-4 (TV: 4-2)
I don't think I'll be the only darts fan a little perplexed that Nathan Aspinall isn't the favourite to win this match given the incredible form he's found as well as his abundance of confidence.
The Stockport star is still riding on the crest of a wave since a second successive World Championship semi-final run sealed his debut spot in the Premier League and he heads into his second fixture on the back of a brilliant fourth career title on Sunday.
This all followed on from reaching the Masters semi-final - which he lost in a deciding leg to Michael Smith - and a fairly comfortable victory over John Henderson on opening night in Aberdeen, so he's certainly thriving in the limelight.
Sure, his performance last Thursday wasn't a sparkling one apart from his 170 checkout but given the raucous atmosphere in favour of his opponent, it was always going to be a tricky conditions in which to play at optimum levels.
Talking of levels, our columnist Paul Nicholson branded Aspinall's Players Championship Two success as "one of the best full day performances in history" and it's hard to dispute that considering he recorded four 100+ averages from his seven matches, including a sensational 117 against Peter Wright that featured a nine-darter.
Cross, who threw a deceptively impressive 100 average in a topsy-turvy 6-6 draw with Price last week, didn't have a great weekend, with a mediocre run to the last 16 on Sunday being ended by eventual winner Gary Anderson before crashing out in Sunday's first round to Darius Labanauskas.
Much has been made of his confidence levels as he continues to get used to rapid weight loss of around two stone and it's hard to back him at the moment until he shows consistency of his best form.
Suggested bet: Nathan Aspinall to win at 11/8
- Head-to-head: 9-14 (TV: 5-6)
- Meetings since start of 2019: 5-3 (TV: 3-2)
- PDC Titles Since Start of 2019: 5-0 (TV: 1-0)
- Career PDC Titles: 9-11 (TV: 2-2)
Gerwyn Price hasn't exactly blasted out of the blocks this season but to say that after he's reached a Players Championship final emphasises just how much we expect from him these days.
The Iceman, who was thrashed by Gary Anderson at the Masters before a somewhat disappointing draw against Rob Cross in the Premier League, saw his run on Saturday ended in the third round by an inspired Flying Scotsman despite averaging over 100 himself while the brilliant Aspinall denied him a 10th PDC title 24 hours later.
Most players would snap your hand off if you offered them a start to the darting calendar like that but Price isn't most players and will be hungry to lay down a marker against a genuine top-four contender.
Michael Smith was visibly frustrated with his below-par display against Glen Durrant last Thursday, averaging 95 in a 7-3 defeat, and perhaps there was an element of a hangover from his heartbreak in the Masters final when missing three match darts against Peter Wright.
On Saturday he started well enough with a 110 average against Ryan Joyce but a poor mark of 86 proved costly in a 6-5 round-three loss to Rob Cross, while on Sunday he was picked off in another decider by Price in the last 16.
Those results will be made worse by the fact that neither Cross nor Price were operating at their peaks either but overall there were enough positive signs from the weekend to suggest he can make this one close at the very least.
He is also seeking to end a run of three successive defeats to the Welshman, including the televised European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals.
Suggested bet: Match to have over 11.5 legs, a high checkout of 120.5 or more and more than 6.5 180s at 5/1
- Head-to-head: 26-18 (2 draws) (TV: 12-5, 2 draws)
- Meetings since start of 2019: 0-5 (TV: 0-1)
- PDC Titles Since Start of 2019: 1-7 (TV: 0-3)
- Career PDC Titles: 47-29 (TV: 19-7)
As far as show-stopping quality is concerned, this has all the makings of being the match of the night.
With almost 100 years of age shared equally between them and 76 PDC titles - not quite as equally shared - both of these darting giants will face off in Nottingham feeling pretty close to the top of their respective games.
One of those aforementioned trophies was of course last year's World Cup, where they teamed up in style for Scotland, but since then Wright has become quite the superior force.
Six individuals crowns, including the biggest of them all and the season-opening Masters, has helped lift the 49-year-old to world number two and such is his new zest for life, he's even targeting top spot and another three or four world titles before he retires.
Anderson, whose defeat in the Masters semi-final was the fifth time in a row he'd lost to his compatriot since the start of 2019, is perhaps eyeing retirement in the not too distant future having achieved almost everything the game has to offer but has no intention of fizzling out Barney style.
The Flying Scotsman's Players Championship success on Saturday underlined just how focused he is on rekindling his old flames this year, especially considering he's defending over £400,000 of Order of Merit money due to his incredible 2018, while the way he finished with a flourish against Daryl Gurney last week was more evidence of this.
It's so difficult to call but I'm going to give the edge to Snakebite, who'll be smarting from being stung by MVG's superb comeback last Thursday before suffering a weekend that promised so much yet delivered so little.
Wright looked on course for a Pro Tour final on Saturday before eventual runner-up Jeff Smith beat him in a deciding leg in the quarters while his average of 113.7 wasn't good enough to beat Aspinall at the same stage on Sunday!
He's still playing well despite these unfortunate mishaps and now could be his turn to win a thriller.
Suggested bet: Wright to win, score over 2.5 180s and have a checkout of over 80.5 at 9/4
- Head-to-head: 0-0
- Meetings since start of 2019: 0-0
- PDC Titles Since Start of 2019: 2-0 (TV: 0-0)
- Career PDC Titles: 2-0 (TV: 0-0)
Fallon Sherrock's well-deserved selection as a Premier League Challenger puts women's darts back in the spotlight on Thursday night - although it's not really been out of it since her Ally Pally heroism.
Two months ago, the Queen of the Palace sent the world darts crazy with those glass-ceiling smashing victories over Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic prior to her eventual exit to Chris Dobey so this subsequent reward shouldn't be disputed by anyone.
World Series invitations are also in the bag for Sherrock and although she couldn't produce her best form to earn a PDC Tour Card at Q School in January, she got back to hard work on the practice board before come through a 200-strong qualification field to earn a spot at the ITV4-televised UK Open finals next month.
Fortunately for women's darts - and the game as a whole - Lisa Ashton became the history-maker at Q School and last weekend won her first match on the Pro Tour, so Thursday night is certainly not the last opportunity for this star duo to make the headlines at the highest level.
So how will Sherrock fare as the first female player to grace to Premier League stage?
The 25-year-old from Milton Keynes obviously has no issues playing in front of huge crowds and will relish the atmosphere that awaits in Nottingham. If she can average in the mid 90s and produce those majestic high checkouts like she did at the Ally Pally, then this could be closer than many expect.
Glen Durrant's mental strength and finishing under pressure is widely hailed but similarly to Suljovic, he's usually a popular player with the crowds and certainly not used to being jeered or playing against an opponent with almost all of the crowd behind them.
It's strangely the same price for Sherrock to win this short format match than she was to defeat the Austrian in set play while she's a tempting 13/8 with a +2.5 leg start on the hanicaps.
Suggested bet: Match to have over 9.5 legs, a high checkout of over 100.5 and more than 3.5 total 180s at 6/4.
- Head-to-head: 6-21 (1 draw) (TV: 4-10, 1 draw)
- Meetings since start of 2019: 3-3 (TV: 3-2)
- PDC Titles Since Start of 2019: 2-14 (TV: 0-8)
- Career PDC Titles: 5-133 (TV: 2-53)
Three tournaments completed this season and Michael van Gerwen is still without a title!
The Dutchman, who suffered a shock first-round defeat with his new darts against Johnny Clayton at the Masters, was unable to get past the last 16 of either Players Championship tournaments at the weekend.
Van Gerwen averaged over 100 three times in his seven matches, with a low of 94, so it’s not as if he’s alarmingly below his best but plenty of work is needed for him to instil that same fear of old back into his opponents.
Much of the focus has surrounded his high-profile change in manufacturer to Winmau a day after his World Championship defeat to Peter Wright, and he therefore had plenty of pressure on his shoulders going into his rematch against Snakebite in Aberdeen last week.
Despite a sloppy start he fought back for a superb 7-5 victory in which he averaged 104 thanks largely to four 100+ checkouts and just two missed darts at double. A similar showing in Nottingham will give Daryl Gurney little chance.
The Northern Irishman is at a low ebb right now, with his poor form towards the end of last season carrying into 2020.
Gurney lost in the opening round of the Masters and suffered a pair of second-round defeats this past weekend, averaging in the 80s in three of his four matches with a high of 90.
Last week he averaged in the low 90s and spurned 16 of his 21 darts at the outer ring as he struggled to deal with the Aberdeen crowd.
In his favour, Gurney has won four of their last seven meetings dating back to his heroics in the climax of the 2018 Players Championship Finals, including a rare regular season double in the Premier League last year, but his confidence is much lower now.
Suggested bet: Under 9.5 legs at 13/5
Treble: Aspinall, Price and Wright at 7.66/1
Draw no bet accas: The above acca at 3.77/1
2020 Premier League Darts Table
- Aspinall P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +4 Pts 2
- Durrant P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +4 Pts 2
- Anderson P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +2 Pts 2
- Van Gerwen P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +2 Pts 2
- Cross P 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 LegD +0 Pts 1
- Price P 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 LegD +0 Pts 1
- Wright P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -2 Pts 0
- Gurney P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -2 Pts 0
- Smith P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -4 Pts 0