Michael van Gerwen 19-5 Michael Smith
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN
Defending champion and current league leader Michael van Gerwen registered his fourth consecutive win in the competition last week when he defeated Gerwyn Price 7-3 in Nottingham. With the match level at 2-2, Van Gerwen took out a 152 finish to break the Price throw and then proceeded to dominate his opponent allowing the Welshman only one more leg.
His match average of 104.8 against Price was his second highest of the Premier League season. Van Gerwen has averaged over 100 in all six of his Premier League matches this season, and his overall tournament average is well ahead of the rest of the field.
Last Saturday he claimed yet another ranking tournament title when he won a Players Championship event, his sixth tournament win in 2018 alone. On his way to victory, he defeated Gary Anderson 6-1 in the quarter-finals.
Michael Smith continued his excellent start to the 2018 Premier League season with a resounding 7-1 win against an out-of-sorts Peter Wright last Thursday night in Nottingham. Smith has won five out of six matches so far and is second in the table behind Michael van Gerwen only on leg difference.
Smith’s average in his win over Wright was 95.02 which was his second highest average of the Premier League season; his overall tournament average of 92.68 is the second lowest in the competition.
Smith entered one of the two Players Championship tournaments that were played last weekend and he suffered a first round exit to Jason Cullen in that tournament. Since winning a UK Open qualifier in February he has made just one quarter-final appearance in his last nine ranking tournament appearances.
This is a top of the table clash as first plays second with both players having won five out of their opening six matches. Although they have nearly identical records in the 2018 Premier League the performances of Michael van Gerwen have been of a much higher standard; his overall tournament average is nearly 11 points higher than Smith’s so it will take a big shift in their performance levels if Smith is to overturn the world number one.
The St Helens star did defeat Van Gerwen 6-1 in a UK Open qualifier earlier this year and has also beaten the Dutchman in a couple of finals on the Euro Tour over the past three years but the overall head-to-head record is very much in favour of Van Gerwen. The last time they met in the Premier League two years ago Van Gerwen recorded a world record TV average of 123.4. He probably won’t reach that remarkable standard here, but you can still expect Mighty Mike to turn on the style and put in a commanding performance which will send him two points clear at the top of the Premier League table.