Mensur Suljovic 8-5 Michael Smith
Last Thursday in Cardiff against Raymond van Barneveld, Mensur Suljovic suffered his second 7-5 defeat in a row in the 2018 Premier League and as a result he comes into this match as one of the only two players who have yet to pick up a point in the competition.
He may be without a win, but his performances in defeat have been of a high standard. His match average of 102.55 against Van Barneveld was the highest match average in week two and his overall tournament average of 103.11 is the highest of any player going into week three.
The tournament checkout percentage of Suljovic stands up well against the other Premier League competitors also. He has a checkout percentage of 45.5% which is only bettered by two players.
Last week Michael Smith maintained his 100% winning start to the Premier League season courtesy of a 7-4 win over Daryl Gurney. Smith has already exceeded his points total from the 2016 Premier League when he exited the tournament in week nine with just three points to his name.
His encounter with Gurney was a high-quality contest with both players averaging over 100 for most of the game. The deciding factor in the outcome was Smith punishing some crucial missed doubles by Gurney in the last two legs of the match.
Overall it was certainly a much better all-round performance from Smith than in his week one win over Gary Anderson; his match average, first nine dart average, checkout percentage and 180 count all showed an improvement in week two.
Both of these players come into the match with differing 100% records; Suljovic is a player without a win after two weeks, whereas Smith has two wins out of two. In terms of tournament average and checkout percentage statistics it is Suljovic who has performed to a higher standard, though in measure of current confidence Smith will have the edge; he has had a good start to 2018 with a tournament win in the UK Open qualifiers a couple of weeks ago added to his start in the 2018 Premier League. Suljovic can’t really afford to go much longer without picking up some Premier League points so he may feel some extra pressure on his shoulders if he falls behind in this game.
Suljovic has a good recent record against Smith having won five of their last six encounters which includes a 10-8 win at the Unibet Masters last month; the last four meetings between the pair have all been very close-run encounters, and this should be no different with the definite potential to go the full 12 legs and end in a draw.