Premier League Darts Returns: Anderson needs shift in gear to secure sixth successive Play-Offs spot
A case of 666 could be devilish for two-time champion Gary Anderson as he returns to Premier League action in Milton Keynes on Tuesday evening.
Anderson is sixth in the table after amassing six points from six matches before the coronavirus pandemic halted the 16-week extravaganza in March.
After having some rest time with his family, the Scotsman came back firing, teaching the final of the World Matchplay in Milton Keynes last month, losing out in the end to Dimitri Van den Bergh.
He goes into the resumption brimming with confidence and in such a congested table, with a run of results potentially seeing him sneak into the Play-Offs.
BEFORE THE SHUTDOWN
A point a game is a sign of consistency in these long format events, and Anderson got off to a good start beating Daryl Gurney in the opener before drawing 6-6 with Peter Wright.
Glen Durrant became the first player to beat him on the third week of proceedings, although he turned his fortunes around when he got the better of Rob Cross.
Anderson didn’t participate in the Premier League last year due to ongoing back problems (Photography: Chris Sargeant)
However, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ became the first player to lose to a Challenger when he was on the wrong end of a 7-5 defeat at the hands of Luke Humphries in Exeter.
The last game before the pandemic saw him involved in a stalemate with fellow former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall.
WORLD MATCHPLAY AND SUMMER SERIES
Gary Anderson’s Summer Series campaign had an underwhelming end result for a player of his credentials.
Even though he made the semi-finals on Day Two of the series, he won just two more matches throughout the other four days and picked up a mere £4,000 in prize money.
His return to the Marshall Arena for the behind closed doors World Matchplay bought him much better luck where wins over Justin Pipe, James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith saw him return to the final.
However, an inspired display from Belgian debutant Van den Bergh saw him win his first major title, and stop Anderson in his tracks for a second title.
The Burnam-on-Sea-based ace’s first match in Milton Keynes is against protege Michael Smith, who will be looking for Matchplay revenge. Both are in the play-off hunt so points taken off each other could be worth its weight in gold.
Then it is the mouthwatering clash with Gerwyn Price a night in advance. No crowd, but sure to be a charged atmosphere in the auditorium when the pair square off, with no love lost from that controversial Grand Slam of Darts final.
A point in either match will see him safe from relegation, but if he is dragged into a battle for survival come the last game, a match against Michael van Gerwen would be the last thing he would have wanted.
CHANCES OF REACHING PLAY-OFFS
Anderson’s chances of reaching the Play-Offs for a sixth successive time are very real, though, the same can be said for most of his competition – that’s how tight it has been this year.
He plays his best darts in front of a crowd, but his Matchplay run also demonstrated he can handle the behind closed doors environment as well.
Perhaps the biggest problem he will face is playing matches over a series of consecutive nights, and with back problems which have plagued him for 18 months, how much it will affect him towards the backend of that run is anyone’s guess.
(Featured Image: Taylor Lanning)