It may be still very early days in the 2019 Premier League season but this is a crucial match for both players. Suljovic struggled for wins in last season’s tournament although he played to a high standard throughout and he will want to avoid doing the same this year so needs to get a win on the board as soon as possible, especially against a player who is struggling to find his best game.
Michael Smith and Daryl Gurney have become very accomplished players on the big stage over the past couple of years with some impressive performances in big tournaments cementing their places in the top six of the PDC rankings.
The last two winners of the PDC World Championship face off in what is sure to be a very high-quality tussle. Rob Cross has really been showing a return to form over the last few weeks, both in the Premier League and away from the TV screens where he has been posting a regular stream of ton plus averages.
Peter Wright’s opening two matches of the tournament have seen him start very slowly and although he has recovered on both occasions he will certainly need to start playing well from the off if he is to make a push for a return to the play-offs.
Both Gerwyn Price and James Wade have performed to a good standard over the opening two weeks of the competition with very similar tournament averages of over 99. Breaking this down further, Price has scored produced the heavier scoring with only Van Gerwen and Cross having a better average over the first nine darts of a leg. Wade has been more effective on his finishing with over 50% of his attempts at a double being successful.
The 2019 Unibet Premier League season takes place from February to May across 17 nights (16 nights of a league phase leading up to the play-offs at the O2 Arena).
Michael van Gerwen was in ominous form on opening night last week, and although Michael Smith did stay in touch, MVG showed his class with an 11-dart winning leg to see out the match.
There is sure to be a lot of attention on this match as three-time Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant takes to the stage having only recently switched across to the PDC.
Gerwyn Price produced a tremendous performance last week to get the win against Gurney. There were thoughts that his recent fine and warning would curb his enthusiasm but he put all of that aside with a very assured display with just the right amount of aggression in his game.
This is their first ever meeting in the Premier League and only their third ever meeting on the big TV stage with Rob Cross having won both previous TV encounters, at the Shanghai Masters in July 2018 and the Players Championship Finals in November 2017.
If this match is anything like their encounter last Saturday in Wigan at Players Championship 1 when they both averaged over 110 in a match that went all the way to a deciding leg, then we are surely in for a treat!
It would be fair to say that neither of these players showed enough of the level of play they are capable of during the final months of 2018 with some early exits in big TV tournaments.
This is a repeat of the recent World Championship final and also a re-run of the 2018 Premier League final where Michael van Gerwen came out on top on both occasions.
Mensur Suljovic must see this as a good chance to open his 2019 Premier League campaign with a victory as he faces Chris Dobey rather than Gary Anderson.