Michael van Gerwen made strides towards top spot last week, picking up two wins on the night to reduce Phil Taylor’s lead at the summit of the table to two points.
Taylor also picked up a win himself, beating Robert Thornton 7-2, meanwhile Raymond van Barneveld defeated a below par Adrian Lewis 7-4.
Playoff contenders Gary Anderson and James Wade contested a draw, a result which means only one point separates three league positions.
With only three events left before the showpiece at the O2 in London, points are at a premium for those chasing the playoffs.
The action at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham is sure to be packed full of excitement and drama!
Phil Taylor vs Peter Wright
This is a match between men with contrasting fortunes.
Phil Taylor sits top of the table having not lost since the first week of the competition, while Peter Wright now sees himself sitting in seventh having only picked up on victory since week four.
‘Snakebite’ has been unlucky in some games, having averaged over 100 on many occasions, only to walk away empty handed.
It is perhaps the persistent tinkering with his darts that has brought the results he has, and it now looks unlikely he will reach the O2 having started out in a great position to do so.
The Scot averaged 98.3 against Michael van Gerwen last week, but it was still only good enough for two legs against the World Number One.
Phil Taylor was well under par last week in his victory over Robert Thornton, averaging only 89.61, but still coming through 7-2.
‘The Power’ is sitting pretty at the top of the table on 22 points, and has already secured his place in London.
On the 24 occasions that these two have crossed paths, Taylor has ran out victorious 16 times, with three draws.
With the current form they are in, I am backing Taylor to get the win.
My Pick: Phil Taylor
Gary Anderson vs Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson would have walked off the Bournemouth stage majorly disappointed not to have taken all two points from his match against James Wade.
It ended in a draw, which didn’t really benefit either player, but Anderson had numerous shots at the double to get the job on and push himself away from those behind him.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged 103.07, including 14 scores of 140+, but it was just the last few darts in the very last leg that let him down.
Raymond van Barneveld took advantage of an under par Adrian Lewis, picking up his fifth win of the competition, moving on to 11 points and leapfrogging Peter Wright.
A 93.09 average and 7/25 on the doubles won’t usually get you much in this format, but ‘Barney’ won’t look back and will be happy to have picked up a win in an inconsistent campaign.
Van Barneveld has the overall lead in their head to head record, but it is Anderson who has won the last four, including a 7-3 victory in Aberdeen on night four of the tournament.
The Dutchman isn’t playing for much more than pride at this stage, with playoff hopes, if not mathematically, pretty much extinguished.
Anderson is sitting in third, hoping to defend the title he won last year, and a win would go a way to helping that cause.
I’m going to opt for an Anderson victory in Birmingham, with it being a tightly contested encounter.
My Pick: Gary Anderson
Adrian Lewis vs Robert Thornton
Adrian Lewis dropped to fourth after two defeats on the night in Bournemouth.
His display against Raymond van Barneveld was well below what ‘Jackpot’ is capable of producing, and his scoring game was absent against Michael van Gerwen, averaging 92.98, hitting only one 180 in the match.
That leaves the 31 year old sitting on 15 points, level with Gary Anderson in third, and one point ahead of James Wade in fifth.
With Wade playing Michael van Gerwen, this is a golden opportunity for Lewis to open up some daylight between fourth and fifth, and move a step closer towards the O2.
Robert Thornton is another just playing for pride, as he is sitting in last position with six points from his thirteen matches.
‘The Thorn’s major success came in avoiding relegation, and since then he has produced some fine displays, including a win over Peter Wright in which he averaged 104.
The Scot will be disappointed he didn’t take advantage of Phil Taylor last week. With Taylor only averaging 89.61, it would have been a golden chance to get a big scalp, but Thornton failed to produce himself, averaging 93.61 in a 7-2 loss.
Lewis defeated Thornton 7-4 on Judgement Night in Cardiff, just one of his 19 victories over his opponent in 24 meetings.
It is that kind of head to head stat that points me strongly in Lewis’ direction.
My Pick: Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen vs James Wade
Michael van Gerwen kicked on towards the top of the table with wins over Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis last week in Bournemouth.
The Dutchman kicked the night off with a 7-2 victory over Wright, in which he averaged 103.38 and had a 53.85% when it came to checkouts.
He finished off the night the way he started it, by picking up his second win of the night over Lewis, even if it wasn’t the performance we expected from the World Number One, averaging below 100 for only the second time in this years competition.
James Wade snuck a point against fellow playoff contender and reigning World Champion Gary Anderson, and won’t care how fortunate he got after the missed opportunities from Anderson to secure victory.
‘The Machine’ averaged 99.71, but it was his checkout ability that eventually enabled him to pick up the point.
In week one of the competition in Leeds, Wade defeated van Gerwen, and he will need a repeat result to keep his hopes of reaching the Premier League finals night alive.
‘Mighty Mike’ has won nine of the pairs last 11 meetings. Van Gerwen is the best player in the world, and I am going to back him most weeks.
My Pick: Michael van Gerwen
Gary Anderson vs Peter Wright
The two Scots return to the oche to bring the action in Birmingham to a close.
This match could have a big say on qualification for London, especially if Anderson comes back to the stage having beaten van Barneveld earlier in the night.
This is Anderson’s game in hand over his fellow competition, so he will be keen to make the most of it.
Reigning Premier League Champion Anderson has won 16 of their 27 meetings, including five of the last six.
One of those victories came in Glasgow in week seven of the tournament, when ‘The Flying Scotsman’ came through 7-5.
I can see a similar scoreline this time round, with Anderson again getting the victory.
My Pick: Gary Anderson