Column #JB9 Premier League – Week 4
Friday, February 28, 2014
Premier League – Week 4
It was all ‘Wright’ on the night as ‘The Power’ was turned back on
It was a great night in Glasgow as the new SSE Hydro arena and the Glaswegian crowd provided an unforgettable night at the darts. This new arena fitted straight in to the Premier League as easily as Peter Wright has fitted into this years competition as he ended the night as the new leader. For the first time in the tournament’s history, 3 Scotsman are in the Premier League and the Scottish crowd were in full voice to cheer them on to an unbeaten night.
The tone of the night was set from the very beginning as Peter Wright hit a 180 with the first 3 darts. Wright built on his opening 180 as he won the 1st leg on the bullseye and he carried on his unbeaten record in this year’s competition as he thrashed Adrian Lewis 7:1. In the second leg of the match, Lewis won his only leg in 11 darts but Wright soon put to bed Lewis’ challenge. He went on to win the next 6 legs and even though he missed 6 darts at the double in the final leg, after his trademark turn to the crowd, he still wrapped up the win 7:1. This win meant that Wright ended the night on top of the Premier League and in my opinion, he is the best ever debutant in the competition. In contrast, Lewis has now lost 2 in a row and with a game against World Champion Michael Van Gerwen next week, he will need to up his game.
The second game of the night saw Wright’s fellow Scot Robert Thornton take to the stage as he played out a scrappy draw with Wes Newton. Thornton was unable to recreate his fantastic form from last week as he averaged over 20 less than his 105 average. Newton was not much better however as he also averaged in the 80’s and these averages were mainly as a result of the poor finishing from both players which even saw Thornton bust 19 with 1 dart in the 3rd leg. At the end of the 11th leg, Thornton was 6:5 up and it looked like the Scottish crowd were going to see another Scottish winner but it wasn’t to be as Newton hit double 12 to tie the match. This draw put Newton into the top 4 and it showed that he is a much improved player since last year.
Thirdly, the bottom 2 in the Premier League went head to head as both Phil Taylor and Simon Whitlock went into battle to try and win their first points this year. At the beginning of the match, Taylor looked unconfident again as he failed to hit a big treble in his first 7 darts and Whitlock took advantage to win the first leg. However, Taylor then upped his game to look more like his old self and by the end of leg 4, he was averaging over 113 and leading for the first time in this year’s competition. Taylor ended up winning the match 7:3 with a 104 average, despite a little bit of magic from The Wizard in leg 8 when he hit the bull to win the leg. It is easy to forget that Simon Whitlock is the World Number 3 as he has hugely under performed this year and just to avoid relegation he is probably going to need to win 4 of his next 5 matches. On the other hand, could Taylor now build on these 2 points and mount a challenge to be Premier League Champion once again?
The headline match of the night was undoubtedly the all Dutch clash between Raymond van Barneveld and Michael Van Gerwen. In this quick fire match, Van Barneveld produced an exceptional 107 average as he ended Van Gerwen’s unbeaten run which meant that he lost his place at the top of the league. To my surprise, the crowd were on Van Barneveld’s side throughout the match as the Barney Army was in full force. It was an impressive start for Van Barneveld as he went 2:0 up by punishing Van Gerwen for missing doubles. Even in defeat, Van Gerwen still performed well and hit 6 perfect darts in leg 5 and he even had a shot at 94 in the final leg for a chance to draw the match. But Van Barneveld dismissed a Van Gerwen comeback as he hit D16 to win 7:5 and complete an impressive performance. Both players are now comfortably sitting in the top 4 and they will probably be vying for title come finals night on the 22nd May.
The Glaswegian crowd did see another Scottish winner in the final match of the night as Gary Anderson overcame Dave Chisnall 7:5. This match probably turned out to be the highest quality match of the night as Chisnall and Anderson averaged 103 and 106 respectively. Anderson copied fellow Scotsman Peter Wright at the beginning of the match by kicking off with a 180 and for the first 5 legs, the match went with throw. However, the decisive moment in the match was in leg 6 as Anderson did what no other player has done in this year’s Premier League by hitting the highest possible checkout of 170. This motivated Anderson to break Chisnall’s throw in the next leg with a 90 checkout and he then held throw until the end of the match to win 7:5. Anderson looks to have truly overcome the double trouble that has hindered his progress in the last couple of years as he hit 70% of his doubles in this match. Chisnall will count himself unlucky not to have won the match and he is now dangerously lurking just one place above the elimination zone. On the other hand, Anderson is now looking up and only 1 point of the top 4.
Week 5 Predictions
Peter Wright 7 : 4 Robert Thornton
Raymond Van Barneveld 7 : 5 Dave Chisnall
Adrian Lewis 3 : 7 Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor 6 : 6 Gary Anderson
Wes Newton 5 : 7 Simon Whitlock