Michael Smith 6-12 Peter Wright
Last week in Leeds, Michael Smith saw his 100% winning start to the 2018 Premier League end when he was defeated 7-5 by Rob Cross. Smith was in a good position to win the match when he led 5-3, but he lost the final four legs of the match all without having an attempt at a double.
Smith’s match average against Cross was 92.61, meaning he has still only averaged over 95 once during his opening five matches of the Premier League season. Only Gerwyn Price has a lower overall tournament average than Smith.
He suffered early exits in both of the two Players Championship tournaments played last weekend. On the Saturday he lost in the last 64 to Danny Noppert, whilst on the Sunday he was defeated in the last 32 by Keegan Brown.
Peter Wright was well beaten 7-1 by Mensur Suljovic last week; he is currently sits in eighth place in the league table having won just one of his opening five fixtures. Ironically, his only win so far has been against the current league leader and world number one Michael van Gerwen.
Wright’s performance against Suljovic was as poor as the final score suggests; his match average, first nine dart average and checkout percentage stats were considerably the lowest he has recorded during the 2018 Premier League.
He bounced back from his poor display against Suljovic with a run to the final of a Players Championship tournament last Saturday, though he was well beaten 6-0 by Gary Anderson in the final itself. In the following day’s tournament, he lost in the first round to Danny Noppert.
Both Michael Smith and Peter Wright will be aiming to bounce back from defeats last time out. Smith still has a very healthy position in the table and won’t need to panic on the back of one defeat but Wright needs to pick up points to avoid getting involved in a battle to avoid elimination. Despite his lower position in the league, Wright has a higher tournament average than Smith and has the potential for a higher level of performance, though his consistency this year is not at the level you would expect.
Snakebite has the overall lead when it comes to their head-to-head record. Their last encounter, though, was won by Smith and he has in fact won three out of their last five meetings. Recent games between them have been close with four of their last six matches going all the way to a last-leg decider. This could be another tight contest, and Wright’s extra need for points should see him in a determined mood which could bring out the extra bit of quality at just the right time to get him the victory.