By News Team
25th May 2022
Night 16, the final round before the play-offs is already upon us, and Joe Cullen and Peter Wright, head to Newcastle knowing they must better the other’s finish in order to make the cut.
Last week saw more drama, as Joe Cullen produced three sparkling performances to take his second Night win and keep him in the hunt for the play-offs.
Will it be Wright or Cullen in the final four? We preview the action below.
A first-round final
The twist in the tale this week is that Joe Cullen and Peter Wright, face each other in the opening round in Newcastle, meaning the winner of the tie is guaranteed to take their place in the play-offs.
Everything comes down to their quarter final meeting, and both players will have to begin the Night in their best form if they are to triumph. On his way to victory last week, Joe Cullen eased past Peter Wright in the semi-finals, beating Snakebite 6-1, before getting the better of league leader Jonny Clayton in the final.
Cullen will surely take confidence from that victory and it’s surprising that the Rockstar isn’t favourite, but the 11/10 underdog to progress to the semis.
Snakebite may have been struggling for form since the early rounds of the Premier League but does have a knack of rising to the big occasion. He will also take heart from reaching the semi finals of the European Darts Grand Prix last weekend, which included strong performances again Jonny Clayton and Danny Noppert. However, considering his league form it’s still something of a surprise to see him as the 8/11 favourite to beat last week’s winner Cullen.
Top plays bottom
Jonny Clayton has more Night wins to his name than anyone this season with four, and after last week’s second place finish, he has secured top spot in the table. Now six points ahead of nearest challenger Michael van Gerwen, the Ferret has nothing to play for, but he’ll want to continue his strong form and is 1/3 to see off confirmed wooden spoon recipient Gary Anderson. Clayton is also the 11/4 favourite to win Night 16.
It’s fair to say Anderson has had a difficult season in the Premier League, and the Flying Scotsman has only made it past the quarter finals once since his solitary win on Night Six. Even a win in Newcastle wouldn’t be enough to lift him off the foot of the table, and he looks set to for another early exit, as the 23/10 outsider to beat Clayton.
Check out all the latest betting offers at William Hill
Wade the surprise package this term
James Wade has continued to confound the pundits in the Premier League, beginning the season as a general 20/1 outsider, he has now secured a play-off place and is only 9/2 to win outright.
He hit form in a purple patch between Night Eight and 12, which saw him make all but one final, and win twice.
After recovering from a health scare that forced him to miss the event in Sheffield two weeks ago, the Machine lost in the first round to Peter Wright. He will want to improve upon that this week before the play-offs but is the 6/5 outsider to beat Gerwyn Price in the quarter finals.
It’s been a highly disappointing campaign for the Iceman, and while it looked like he was staging a late rally after taking a second Night win two weeks ago, he folded tamely in the quarter finals last week. That ended his hopes of a play-off spot, but he is 4/6 to gain minor compensation against Wade.
One more chance for Smith to claim a Night win
Despite Michael Smith not having a Night win to his name this season, it could be argued he has been unlucky. He’s shown a consistent level of form in the past few weeks, reaching the last four semi-finals. However, on each occasion he has run into one of the in-form pair of Jonny Clayton and Michael van Gerwen, often playing well but not quite having enough to get over the line. He did beat van Gerwen in the quarter finals last week though and is 7/4 to do the same this week.
MVG has rediscovered something like his best form this season, and has consistently made the later rounds, resulting in him comfortably qualifying for the final four. However, Mighty Mike was on the wrong end of a humiliating 6-1 defeat in the European Darts Grand Prix at the weekend. He’s expected to recover from that though and is a strong favourite to win this opening match up at 4/9, while he is a 3/1 shot to go on and add a fourth Night win to his list of honours.