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Premier League – Darts: Anderson hoping for home comforts

The eight stars of the Premier League head to this year's most northerly outpost with Gary Anderson hoping he can draw on past triumphs in Aberdeen to stay in the playoff race.
 

It's Night 11 of this year's Premier League campaign, meaning just six rounds of league action remain, six rounds to determine which four players will head off to Berlin for the playoffs in June.

Michael van Gerwen, the 11/5 tournament favourite, is in pole position on 22 points, one clear of defending champion Jonny Clayton and with a seven-point buffer over the man in fifth place, Joe Cullen.

And it's beginning to look increasingly bleak for Michael Smith and Gary Anderson while even Gerwyn Price is going to struggle to make the top four on current form. Price is 5/4 to make the semis, Smith 7/2 and Anderson 15/2.

Anderson needs to find some magic and find it soon, starting at in Aberdeen, a city where he has done well in the past and where he knows he will have one of the tournament's more vocal crowds right behind him.

Past Aberdeen heroics can spur on Ando

Anderson takes on Clayton in the first quarter-final in the Granite City, two men separated by a whopping 14 points in the table, a gulf reflected in the odds with the Ferret a 4/11 chance, the Scot at 11/5.

Clayton is clearly playing well in defence of his title – he has reached at least the semis in seven of the ten rounds played so far, hasn't fallen at the first since Night Six and is a dual winner already. Only Van Gerwen has won more times, with three nightly triumphs.

Anderson, meanwhile, has won just four matches over the first ten weeks with seven first-round losses plus a withdrawal.

So Anderson needs to get going and get going fast and Aberdeen is a city where he has done well in the past.

In nine previous visits to the Granite City, the Flying Scotsman has won seven times, losing just once, a 7-4 defeat at the hands of Van Gerwen five years ago.

His first visit was in 2011, his first year in the tournament, a night he crushed Terry Jenkins 8-3 to the delight of a sell-out crowd. He went on to lift the trophy that year for the first time.

If he plans to lift the trophy for a third time in Germany on 13th June then he needs to get his skates on and maybe memories of former glories up on the Aberdeenshire coast will give him the boost he needs.

Home advantage not a major edge

Anderson is the "away" player against Clayton, which means the Welshman throws first, a seemingly sizeable advantage in what is a relatively brief race to six legs.

In fact, the stats suggest that throwing first hasn't been quite the edge punters might have reckoned it would be.

There have been 68 matches played so far in this year's tournament with 35 of those being won by the player throwing first, 33 by the player throwing second. Any difference is negligible.

Indeed, the "away" players have really dominated over the last two weeks in Leeds and Manchester with nine wins recorded by the men who threw second, just four by the men who toed the oche first.

For any punter looking at trends, three of the last four weeks have been won by the fourth-named player on the draw bracket, Cullen in Rotterdam, Van Gerwen in Leeds and Wade last week at the AO Arena in Manchester.

The fourth name on the bracket in Aberdeen is Cullen, who is 10/1 to go in. Clayton and Van Gerwen are 10/3 shots to claim the honours on Night 11 with Peter Wright, who is drawn to play Cullen, a 9/2 chance.

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Cullen needs to cope with crowd

If Cullen is to deliver for a second time, he's going to have to fend off a truly hostile crowd.

As an Englishman, Rockstar knows he's in for a torrid reception, and as an Englishman playing against a Scotsman, he knows you can multiply that hostility any number of times.

Cullen is 6/4 to beat Wright, who is an 8/15 shot, and it's a massive match in terms of qualification.

Wright is in fourth place, holding on to the last playoff spot, three points clear of fifth-placed Cullen. If Wright wins, he'll finish the evening at least five points clear of the Yorkshireman and have one foot in the semis.

Aberdeen will be right behind Snakebite, though he will be acutely aware that Cullen has the backbone to be able to overcome a partisan crowd.

Cullen's only win so far was in Rotterdam, against home idol Michael van Gerwen, in a final which went to a nerve-shredding 11th leg. The anti-Cullen noise when he was throwing was deafening. And if Cullen can come through that, he can probably come through anything.

Now or never for Smith

The two matches in the bottom half see James Wade take on Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price lock horns with MvG.

Wade is 4/5 to beat Smith (who is 1/1) and the left-hander is in sizzling form, having reached each of the last three finals, making it third time lucky by triumphing in Manchester last Thursday.

He has vaulted into third place and Smith, one off the bottom on eight points and without a win in four weeks, knows he will have to be at his absolute best to pip the resurgent leftie.

Price also needs wins, though his plight isn't quite as desperate as Smith's. He's 1/1 against 4/5 poke Van Gerwen.

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