As the Premier League of Darts moves to Manchester, Betfair Ambassador Wayne Mardle explains why he's backing Gary Anderson to continue his excellent form and two other in-form players to go the distance when they meet...
"If Gary plays well he wins this 7-1, 7-2, maybe, just maybe, 7-0. I’ve been in Simon’s position, when the chips are down. You try to relax but you can’t, you try not to lose rather than trying to win. Playing defensively isn’t the way forward."
Simon Whitlock v Gary Anderson
Live on Sky Sports Darts
No one likes to be kicked whilst their down, but Simon has to be opposed. Gary is on top form, in buoyant mood, loving life. And why wouldn't he be, after his sensational performance last week in Rotterdam? The standard of play he can produce is way out of reach of nearly all of his rivals, apart from Michael Van Gerwen.
If the Scotsman replicates his Rotterdam form, this could be an annihilation. Simon has won only six legs in his last four matches in the Premier League...he's lost 7-1,7-1,7-3 and 7-1. How low must Simon's confidence be?
Simon started the league so well, winning his first three games, but in the last nine weeks he's only managed one win. That was against Gerwyn Price who's since been eliminated after finishing bottom of the league phase.
This game in my opinion is all about Gary. If he plays well he wins this 7-1, 7-2, maybe, just maybe, 7-0. I've been in Simon's position, when the chips are down. You try to relax but you can't, you try not to lose rather than trying to win. Playing defensively isn't the way forward.
The first few throws for Simon are crucial. He will need a few confidence boosting visits to reassure himself. If Anderson can get stuck in early then Simon may wilt, just like he did last week against a Smith and Gurney.
Wright and Smith to go the distance
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Live on Sky Sports Darts
Peter "Snakebite" Wright has stopped the shocking run of form he was in a few weeks back. Peter lost three matches running 7-1. Incredible! One of those defeats was to tonight's opponent, Michael Smith.
With wins over RVB and MVG, and a draw against the current world champ Rob Cross, Peter has given himself a much needed injection of zest and inner belief.
Michael Smith needs another win to all but confirm a place in the playoffs. It's improbable Peter will qualify. He'll need all the darting deities to help him, as Smith is the real deal.
The boy who played in the Premier League two years ago has gone. Smith grown into a his role as a father and matured beyond belief as a darts player.
This match is tough to call. I'm sure it won't be a one sided affair like last time, as Peter is playing much better now. But here's a key stat: seven of Wright's 13 matches have gone to the last leg - that's more than any other player.
With both players showing well now, I can't any reason to believe this won't go the distance.