Premier League Darts: Snakebite to topple Van Gerwen again?

Peter Wright
Peter Wright kicks off his Premier League campaign with a match against Michael van Gerwen

The Premier League Darts juggernaut gets underway again on Thursday and Jason Pettigrove believes that Peter 'Snakebite' Wright can shock Michael van Gerwen once again...

"It’s too early to say if van Gerwen has started to lose a little bit of his edge, but missing doubles early at Ally Pally and again vs Clayton does indicate that he’s perhaps not as invincible as he once was."

The Premier League Darts extravaganza rolls into Aberdeen on Thursday night to kick off another three months of highs and lows, battle royales and arrows of the very highest quality.

One of the finest darts rivalries for years continues to develop, and Michael van Gerwen against Peter 'Snakebite' Wright is the show-stopper on opening night.

Wright full of confidence

Wright, fresh from his superb 7-3 victory over the Dutchman in the PDC World Championship final at the beginning of January, heads into the round robin tournament at the top of his game and full of confidence.

Having lost 10 of his previous 11 finals before finally securing his maiden PDC title, and despite being the second oldest winner of the event (at 49), Wright has all the tools in his armoury to ensure his opponent will have to work for every leg of their upcoming shoot out.

A spiky personality at the best of times, the Scot thinks nothing of firing up hostilities at the oche, with Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross just two opponents on the end of his sharp tongue and even sharper throwing ability.

Van Gerwen, still a relative youngster in the game at 30, despite being a veteran, has seen a nightmarish start to his 2020. Aside from the toil against Wright at the turn of the year, his five-year run as Masters champions has been ended, and in some style too.

Switch not to blame

Unfancied Welshman, Jonny Clayton, shocked the crowd in Milton Keynes by taking out Mighty Mike 10-6 in the first round. What's more, he did so by only averaging a paltry 93.75.

On the night, basic mistakes crept into the Dutchman's game, and that has to be a worry for the best in the business moving forward. Suggestions that van Gerwen's switch to a set of new, Winmau, darts are to blame for his stutters have been met with a denial from the man himself.

To his credit, he hasn't looked for excuses for either loss but he can ill afford a poor start to another round of the Premier League, particularly as he comes into the tournament as the four-time reigning champion (five titles overall) and overwhelming even money favourite.

It's too early to say if Van Gerwen has started to lose a little bit of his edge, but missing doubles early at Ally Pally and again vs Clayton does indicate that he's perhaps not as invincible as he once was.

And his worry will be that Wright is in better form at this point and, evidently, in a better frame of mind. Certainly, Snakebite will be gunning for him from the off, and he'll have a partisan crowd in Aberdeen right behind him.

A 106 plus average from the Dutchman hasn't been seen for some time, and the reality is that if he wants to get any change from Wright, then it's the top end averages where he needs to be channelling his energies.

By contrast, the Scot has to look to disrupt his opponent by whatever means necessary, particularly if he starts getting into the groove and fires off legs at will.

Wright won't need asking twice to fire up the locals, whom he'll feed off if he finds his own range early in the encounter. With 1,501 career 180s between them too, fireworks are assured.

Wright to sneak it

As far as the match odds market is concerned for the opener, Wright's 23/10 odds to win the match are competitive. Van Gerwen won't go quietly and will be expected to make a game of it, however, so 4/6 for him to get the highest checkout is a no-brainer.

The Scot has won two of their last three encounters, and the one which he lost, an epic Champions League of Darts final back in October last year, he did so by just one game (11-10). Though at 10-7 up in a first to 11 final, he missed a succession of darts which would've seen him become the champion.

It's therefore not beyond the realms of possibility that this one will see the full 12 games before we get a winner. To that end, it's worth looking at the correct score market, with Peter Wright to win 7-5 looking like a good shout at 11/2.

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