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31 Jan 2018 by TSZ

2018 Unibet Premier League Darts – Gary Anderson vs Michael Smith Preview

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AT A GLANCE

When? Thursday 1st February

Where? 3Arena Dublin

What channel is it on? Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Mix

Are tickets still available? www.ticketmaster.ie

Where can I stream the match? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go

THE LOWDOWN

CAREER HEAD-TO-HEAD
Gary Anderson 8-2 Michael Smith

GARY ANDERSON

  • Gary Anderson is a two-time winner of the Premier League, having won the tournament on his debut in 2011 and again in 2015. This is his eighth consecutive Premier League campaign, and from the current crop of Premier League players only Raymond van Barneveld has more Premier League appearances.
  • Anderson has been hampered by a back injury over the last two months, and as a result, his recent TV performances have been a little below his usual high standards. Since picking up the injury in his Grand Slam of Darts semi-final he has averaged over 100 in only one of his last eight matches, whereas he had averaged over 100 in five of his six matches prior to that semi-final.
  • Despite his back-injury, Anderson reached the semi-finals at the 2018 Unibet Masters last weekend, where he recorded wins over Benito van de Pas and Gerwyn Price before losing to eventual champion Michael van Gerwen.

MICHAEL SMITH

  • Michael Smith is returning for his second Premier League campaign. His debut Premier League season in 2016 wasn’t one to remember as he finished bottom of the table and managed just one win from his nine matches.
  • Smith comes into this game having won just one of his last five matches. He suffered a first round exit last weekend at the 2018 Unibet Masters, going down 10-8 to Mensur Suljovic. There were positives from his performance though as he staged a very spirited comeback from 5-0 and 8-3 down to level the match at 8-8 before Suljovic closed out the game.
  • Although he lost in round two at the recent PDC World Championship, it took a tremendous performance from the eventual champion Rob Cross to end his tournament hopes. Smith had two darts at doubles to defeat Cross in what was a high-quality, thrilling encounter.

THE PREDICTION

This is a match between two players who know each other very well, as Anderson has been an influential figure in the career of Smith, acting as a sponsor and mentor to the St Helens star during his early years on the PDC circuit. It is Anderson who has the upper hand in terms of their previous meetings, with the Flying Scotsman having won each of their last five encounters and hasn’t lost to Smith since 2014.

Smith flew out of the blocks in their match at the 2017 Grand Slam and led 4-1 whilst averaging 115, only for Anderson to reel off six legs in a row and eventually win the match 10-6. It is unknown how much the back-problem Anderson has been suffering from will hamper him so any prediction has to be treated with caution.

Smith does have the game to trouble a potential below-par Anderson, but their past head-to-head record has to be taken into account too and this might just be a factor which sees Anderson sneak a narrow victory.

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