Michael Smith produced his finest performance of the 2018 Premier League season last Thursday in Liverpool when he comprehensively defeated Raymond van Barneveld 7-0. His average of 103.2 and checkout percentage of 87.5% were by far his best numbers of the campaign
The win against Barney was Smith’s seventh win from nine matches and he is second in the table behind Van Gerwen. The only blemishes on his record are defeats against Van Gerwen and Cross.
He backed up his tremendous performance last Thursday by winning a Players Championship tournament on Saturday. On his way to the title he overcame the likes of Kyle Anderson, James Wilson, Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis.
Rob Cross is third in the league table and has won six out of his last seven Premier League matches. Last Thursday he defeated Gary Anderson 7-5 to bounce back from his loss against Daryl Gurney in Belfast the previous week.
During his win last week, Cross was grateful for Anderson missing darts at doubles. Overall, the Flying Scotsman lost a total of five legs in which he’d had attempts at doubles.
His average of 92.3 against Anderson was actually his lowest match average since night two when he was well beaten 7-1 by Simon Whitlock.
The players occupying second and third in the league table face-off in what should be an entertaining encounter. Michael Smith had been winning matches whilst not playing anywhere near his peak but last week against Raymond van Barneveld he really hit form and his confidence will be sky high as a result.
Cross didn’t put in a great performance against Anderson last week but he got the win and he is expected to be much better this week. Voltage came from 5-3 down to defeat Smith earlier in the league campaign and he has now won each of their last five meetings. Whether or not that run of results will be an issue remains to be seen but Smith did have chances to beat Cross at the World Championship and he does have the game to topple the World Champion.
Smith should carry enough confidence and belief to push Cross all the way in a match that is predicted to end in a draw.