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Premier League Darts - PDC: Night 16 Preview

The regular Premier League season concludes in Newcastle on Thursday and signs off in style with a winner-takes-all showdown between Joe Cullen and Peter Wright for the fourth and final playoff place. 
 

Jonny Clayton, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade have booked their places at next month's Premier League playoffs in Berlin – and that leaves just one spot up for grabs.

And that spot is reserved for either Cullen or Wright, locked together on 22 points and meeting in a blockbuster quarter-final at the Utilita Arena, with the loser knowing he's out of the tournament.

Does Snakey's Stuttgart surge give him an edge?

It's 11/10 Cullen, 8/11 Wright in Newcastle – and the Premier League formbook says Cullen is the bet.

The two men met as recently as last week in London, a match Rockstar won 6-1 on his way to victory at the O2.

It was Cullen's second win of his debut campaign and could not have been more timely, powering him from the verge of elimination to the point where he is now just one win from a place in Berlin on 13th June.

And Wright's Premier League form has been disappointing after a flying start. The world No.1 was a winner and a beaten finalist in the first four weeks of the competition – yet hasn't gone beyond the semis in the subsequent 11 weeks.

The world champion even took time off to recharge the batteries and over the weekend, at the European Grand Prix, it looked as though that decision may well have paid off.

As Cullen crashed to a dismal 6-1 defeat at the hands of Rowby-John Rodriguez in his only game, Wright was storming to the semis with 6-1 batterings of Jonny Clayton and Danny Noppert – averaging 103 and 111 respectively – before succumbing to red-hot Luke Humphries in the semis.

Head-to-heads say it's too close to call

Last week's dust-up between Cullen and Wright in London was their fourth meeting in this year's competition, and at two wins apiece there really has been nothing between them.

Overall, of course, it's all about Wright. The Scot boasts a career 23-7 head-to-head record over Cullen, featuring victories in each and every TV showdown, most recently in the UK Open in March when Wright won 10-6 in round four.

This time, it's Cullen who has the edge of throwing first and it's 5/6 there are over 9.5 legs with Wright a 4/1 chance to win 6-4.

Cullen has chucked seven more 180s than Wright over the course of the Premier League season despite having played eight fewer legs. The Yorkshireman is 1/1 to hit more 180s than Wright, who is 7/5.

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Wade may need wins to seal third place

The Cullen-Wright clash is the must-see tie of the night but there is one other piece of business to deal with – whether James Wade qualifies in third place or fourth.

In all honesty, Wade is unlikely to care either way. The 2009 Premier League champion was a rank outsider when the tournament began back in February but has got stronger and stronger and looks a threat again.

The left-hander was bottom of the table after Week Seven and promptly reached four of the next five finals – winning twice – to completely transform the landscape.

He may well need to beat Gerwyn Price (and possibly even his semi-final as well) to nail down third place in the table, and he's 6/5 to beat the Iceman, who is a 4/6 shot.

How the night maps out will determine whether Wade meets either table-topper Clayton or, as it stands, Van Gerwen, in the semis at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on 13th June and the prices would suggest the Green Machine represents the sterner test right now.

Van Gerwen is rated 13/8 to go on and win the tournament for a sixth time, with defending champ Clayton 9/4 to retain his crown. Wade is 9/2, Wright 11/2 and Cullen 17/2.

Last hurrah from Anderson?

The final two quarter-final ties see Clayton and Gary Anderson kick off proceedings with van Gerwen and Michael Smith meeting, incredibly, for the seventh time over the course of the campaign.

The most recent of that septet was last Thursday in London when Smith, after being on the receiving end of five straight losses, finally pulled it out of the bag with a hard-fought 6-5 win. And Smith, despite a sorry campaign, is throwing more consistently now than he was earlier on. Despite that, it's the Dutchman who is the 4/9 chance.

When it comes to sorry campaigns, however, none has been sorrier than Anderson's, winner of just five matches over the course of 15 weeks and condemned to bottom spot in the table, no matter what he produces against Clayton.

And if the prices are your guide, then Ando isn't expected to produce an awful lot. Clayton is set to go off a 1/3 shot, Anderson a whopping 12/5.

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