The PDC Unibet Premier League starts this Thursday night at the 3Arena in Dublin. The PDC have freshened up this year's competition, with four players making their debuts in the Premier League. New world champion Rob Cross, Grand Prix winner Daryl Gurney, Champions League winner Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price will all compete in the Unibet Premier League for the first time. With top stars such as Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Dave Chisnall all missing out after disappointing years in 2017. Michael Smith and Simon Whitlock have both earned recalls
This is years Premier League looks the most open tournament that we have had in recent times, with the fresh blood the PDC have introduced. Of course, we still have the dominant Michael van Gerwen; the Dutchman is still the overwhelming bookies favourite with odds of 8/11 with title sponsors Unibet. The PDC Premier League is an unforgiving test on the players, with 16 weeks up and down the country and now Europe that will test all ten players both physically and mentally. The Premier League can give players the ultimate high but can also be the loneliest place in the darting world. Players have struggled to recover after poor Premier League showings over the years. So the four debutantes will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike again.
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Premier League winner - Michael van Gerwen 8/11
To Finish Bottom - Simon Whitlock 7/4
To be Relegated - Simon Whitlock 4/6 Mensur Suljovic 11/4
A 9 dart finish - Yes 4/5
Night One - February 1 3Arena Dublin
Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock
Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Night one kicks off with a blockbuster fixture. World champion Rob Cross take on world number one Michael van Gerwen, in a repeat of the world championship semi-final. Robb Cross won a sudden death leg that night at Ally Pally, in one of the greatest games of darts we have seen on TV. The world number one looked in top shape at the weekend, van Gerwen retained his Unibet Masters title in Milton Keynes and sent out a message to the rest of the field. Gary Anderson will face his protege Michael Smith. Anderson is still suffering from the back injury picked up last year, so Smith will be looking at starting with a win in this year’s competition. Mensur Suljovic will open up the show against Simon Whitlock, even in week one this could be a significant result come judgement night.
Daryl Gurney will have home support of the Irish crowd on Thursday night, when he takes on Raymond van Barneveld. Judging of their Master's form Barney will start this as the favourite. The final game of the evening sees world number two Peter Wright faces the charismatic Welshman Gerwyn Price. Price will need to get off to a good start in Dublin, so expect fireworks.