Unibet Premier League – Week Four Preview
Michael van Gerwen will be hoping to put his first defeat of the 2020 Unibet Premier League campaign behind him as he takes on Challenger William O’Connor in Dublin on Thursday.
Five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen’s perfect start to the season was ended by Nathan Aspinall in Cardiff on Night Three, as Aspinall impressed in a 7-5 win over the world number one.
Van Gerwen’s chance for redemption will see the Dutchman face passionate local star O’Connor, who took Republic of Ireland to their first World Cup of Darts final in 2019 alongside Steve Lennon.
“Of course it’s always disappointing to lose, especially in the Premier League, but you have to bounce back,” said Van Gerwen, the reigning champion.
“I’ve shown many times over the years I am good at bouncing back so we will see what happens on Thursday.
“In the Premier League you can never expect to win every game because you are playing against the best players in the world every week.
“I love playing in Dublin, the crowd there are always up there with the very best but I know they will get behind William this time.
“He will be up for the game, that’s for sure, but I know I have enough to get the job done.”
Starring as the fourth of this year’s nine Premier League Challengers, O’Connor will take his Premier League bow in front of almost 9,000 fans at a sold-out 3Arena.
O’Connor picked up his first PDC ranking title in 2019, while also reaching his first individual televised quarter-final, with the 33-year-old relishing the prospect of an upset in the Irish capital.
“I wasn’t really expecting the call to play in the Premier League,” O’Connor revealed. “I was hoping for it, but it was nice to get it then when I got it.
“It will be a dream come true. In fairness, if I can pull off an upset, it couldn’t be any better either.
“At the end of the day, there’s a huge opportunity here to go up and hopefully perform very, very well.
“I’m not expected to win. Definitely I’m a huge underdog going into it, and I’m going to give it my very best.
“You never know; sometimes upsets happen and hopefully I can be the one to do it.”
Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright will meet in a repeat of December’s memorable World Championship semi-final at Alexandra Palace, with both players coming into the contest with another PDC title to their name.
The pair were in sensational form on the ProTour last weekend, with Wright defeating Price in the final of Saturday’s Players Championship Five, before the Welshman went one better the following day.
Price defeated Van Gerwen in the final of Players Championship Six, and the Welshman believes that is testament to his changed attitude to facing the world’s best players over the last two years.
“When you first start off in the game you’re wary of the top players, maybe I was guilty of showing them too much respect in the past,” admitted Price, who has drawn his opening three Premier League matches.
“But now I’m one of the top players and I truly believe that if I score as well as I can and take my chances then I can beat any of them.
“I think Peter is the best player in the world right now. MvG has gone off the boil a bit but Peter is the best and there’s a few of us close behind.
“I’m unbeaten in the Premier League and I’ve played five events this year and got to three finals so I’m doing alright.
“Last week in Cardiff was frustrating for me, I desperately wanted to win in front of home crowd but fair play to Daryl [Gurney] he made it difficult for me and he deserved a point.
“My focus is now on turning these draws into wins, then hopefully I will make it to The O2 for the first time in May.”
Table-topper Glen Durrant has played down his chances of winning the title in his debut year ahead of his meeting with fellow-newcomer Aspinall.
Early pace-setter Durrant made it two wins from three in Cardiff, with clinical finishing helping him to a 7-4 defeat of two-time Premier League champion Anderson.
A winner of two ranking titles in 2019, Durrant is on the hunt for his first PDC crown in front of the TV cameras but the three-time BDO champion isn’t expecting to lift the Premier League trophy at The O2 in May.
“I’m in a great place right now, I never thought I would be top of the Premier League at any point of my career,” Durrant admitted.
“Reaching the top four is a bit of a pipe dream. I don’t think I can win it right now, but I’m loving every minute and I just want to keep winning.
“My Premier League experience so far has been everything I hoped it would be. I look around the practice room and I see eight huge characters, eight of the best players in the world and I’m in there with them.
“I wish I was bullish and say ‘I’m going to finish in the top four’ but that’s not the person I am. I still just want to avoid being eliminated so that will be my focus until I achieve that goal.”
Night Four will also see two-time Premier League winner Gary Anderson take on 2019 runner-up Rob Cross, while Daryl Gurney will look to move off the foot of the table against Michael Smith, who recorded his first Premier League win in almost ten months on Night Three.
The first nine nights of Premier League action will see a different Challenger in action, culminating in Judgement Night in Rotterdam on March 26 where the ninth-placed player will be eliminated.
Following Judgement Night, the remaining eight players meet once more in the remaining seven league nights in Belfast, Sheffield, Manchester, Berlin, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds.
The top four players then progress to face off for the title, and £250,000 top prize, in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 21.
Night Four will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
2020 Unibet Premier League
Thursday February 27
Glen Durrant v Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith
William O’Connor v Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
Tickets: SOLD OUT
Night Four Match Odds
8/5 Glen Durrant – 16/5 Draw – Nathan Aspinall 5/4
17/10 Rob Cross – 16/5 Draw – Gary Anderson 6/5
9/5 Daryl Gurney 3/1 Draw – Michael Smith 23/20
13/2 William O’Connor – 5/1 Draw – Michael van Gerwen 2/7
17/10 Gerwyn Price – 3/1 Draw – Peter Wright 5/4
Unibet Premier League Outright Odds
Michael van Gerwen Evens
Peter Wright 9/2
Gerwyn Price 7/1
Gary Anderson 9/1
Nathan Aspinall 10/1
Glen Durrant 14/1
Michael Smith 14/1
Rob Cross 16/1
Daryl Gurney 50/1
EW 1/3 1-2
Odds courtesy unibet and correct at time of publication.
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