Michael Smith v Robert Thornton

It is fair to say that both players had a week to forget in Leeds last Thursday night with Smith's Premier League debut ending in two heavy defeats to Wright & Lewis and Thornton suffering the indignity of the league's 6th whitewash in his 7-0 loss to Chisnall.

Smith picked himself back up though at the weekend in the first of two UK Open qualifier triple-headers with him reaching the quarter-finals in two of the three events and recording (according to himself) an average of 132.62 in one of his wins.

Thornton's struggles since his World Grand Prix triumph continued at the weekend with him registering first round exits in two of the three events to take his record since beating van Gerwen back in October to 9-13. His average of 75.68 in last week's defeat was the lowest in the Premier League since 2008 and that included only one shot at a double so it was not a case of poor doubling dragging his average down.

Smith has won their last 3 meetings including their only meeting last year and although he struggled to adapt to the Premier League stage last week, he should be taken at 10/11 (various) to heap more misery on the struggling Thorn whose form in this competition (just 2 wins in the last 20 matches) leaves a lot to be desired.
Michael Smith - 1pt @ 10/11

Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright

Raymond van Barneveld carried on from where he left off last year in Leeds as he extended his unbeaten record in the league stages of this competition to 9 matches with a 7-2 victory against Taylor. He did not miss a double until the 9th leg of the match and finished with the night's highest average of 103.60 in a dominant display.

Wright benefited from Smith's nerves as he was afforded plenty of time to settle in to the competition's curtain raiser with a 20 dart leg before picking up his performance and averaging 103.36 with 5 180s in the 8 legs that followed and recording a 7-2 win.

The head to head is in Barney's favour with him leading 7-3 with 2 draws but Wright won their most recent encounter at the weekend 6-5 and also thrashed van Barneveld in their last televised meeting in last year's UK Open 9-1.

However, van Barneveld's recent record in this competition is enough of a deterrent to leave the match odds alone and turn to the 180s market where Snakebite has been racking up impressive numbers in recent tournaments. Over the last 6 televised tournaments & last week's Premier League opener, Wright has racked up 133 180s in 327 legs averaging a 180 every 2.46 legs. In comparison, van Barneveld has hit 66 180s in 313 legs which averages out at a 180 every 4.74 legs.

Wright to hit the most 180s is an 8/11 shot (various) though it might pay to be braver here based on the numbers above, with Wright almost throwing two 180s to van Barneveld's one, and take Coral's 6/4 on Wright to throw the most 180s with a -1.5 handicap.
Peter Wright to throw most 180s - 1pt @ 6/4

Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall

It is only after one week but the two early pacesetters in the Premier League collide as last week's biggest victors square off in the night's third match.

Lewis was another to benefit from Smith's below par Premier League bow last week as he raced to a 7-1 victory in the final match. The start from Lewis was far from blistering but his finish was as he won the last 5 legs averaging 112.16. He carried that form into the weekend winning the first of the UK Open qualifier events before losing in the QFs and the last 16 in the other two events.

Chisnall recorded just the 6th whitewash in Premier League history as he followed up the previous weekend's Masters final appearance with another 100+ average in his win against Thornton. Chisnall, like van Barneveld seems to be at home in this competition with him racking up his 8th consecutive 100+ average in the league stage last week.

Chisnall has the slight advantage in the head to head with him leading it 10-9 and he won both of their encounters in the Premier League last year 7-2 and 7-4 with the latter being their last meeting.

With the head to head record being slightly in Chisnall's favour, the two victories last year and his continued high averaging performances in this event, it is worth siding with him again here but take the safer draw no bet option which is available at 11/10 with Coral.
Chisnall, Draw No Bet - 1pt @ 11/10

Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen

The reigning World & Premier League champion makes his bow in this year's competition in a repeat of last year's final after missing the opening week through illness.

It is tough to gauge what shape Anderson is in as he did not play in the weekend's qualifiers and lost in his only appearance since the World Championship to Vincent van der Voort at the Masters.

Van Gerwen looked set to run away with his match last week against Wade as he raced into a 3-0 lead but he uncharacteristically suffered from double trouble and eventually lost 7-4. van Gerwen rarely suffers back to back defeats in televised matches and you have to go back to June 2014 since that happened when he lost to Kim Huybrechts & Brendan Dolan in the World Cup of Darts and back to late 2011 for the instance before that. Van Gerwen leads the head to head 18-11 though he & Anderson have split the last 8 televised meetings 4-4.

With Anderson's form an unknown here, it's hard to suggest anything with conviction in the match markets but one market which van Gerwen often excels in is the highest checkout market. His own checkout line is set at 106.5 which he has covered in 11 of the last 17 league stage matches including a 167 checkout against Wade last week and those numbers suggest that the 5/6 on offer with Coral & betway to cover that is a bet worth taking.
Van Gerwen Highest Checkout - 1pt @ 5/6

James Wade v Phil Taylor

Wade arguably had the surprise result of last week's opening night with his 7-4 victory against van Gerwen. He hit 5 180s and had a checkout percentage of close to 54%. Wade would have hoped to have taken that form into the weekend events but he suffered first round exits in two of the three though he did beat van Barneveld on his way to the last 16 on Sunday.

Although van Barneveld did not give Taylor much of a look in last week due to his finishing, Taylor would have been disappointed to have not put on a better display as he recorded his 2nd lowest average (92.34) in the Premier League league stages since the opening night of the 2011 tournament. He did however bounce back at the weekend with him finishing runner-up in Friday's event before winning Sunday's.

This will be the 62nd meeting between the pair with Taylor leading the head to head 46-10 with 5 draws and although Wade won their last notable televised meeting at the World Matchplay 17-14 (they did meet on TV in Australia at the Perth Masters), you have to go back to February 2009 for Wade's last Premier League victory against Taylor who has won 6 of their last 8 league stage meetings.

The performances at the weekend will have encouraged Taylor as should his record against Wade in this competition but he is vulnerable on the televised stage at the moment with him losing 5 of his last 9 matches so the 10/11 on offer on the match odds doesn’t offer an awful lot.

One thing that has improved with Wade recently is the amount of 180s he has been throwing with him registering 21 180s in his last 59 televised legs. He seems to have been undervalued in the most 180s market with Taylor having thrown 12 over his last 65 legs so Wade at 5/2 with BetVictor is also a worthwhile bet.
James Wade to throw most 180s - 1pt @ 11/8