Live Darts on Thursday April 12: Premier League Darts Sheffield preview and order of play

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Van Barneveld and Wright face a make-or-break evening in Sheffield (credit:PDC)

The second phase of the 2018 Premier League commences in Sheffield on Thursday, with Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright both called into action twice.

Following the elimination of Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price from the event on Judgement Night in Liverpool last Thursday, the remaining hopefuls will now vie for places in next month's Semi-Finals at The O2.

The road to The O2 begins in the Steel City with five fascinating fixtures, headed by an all-Scottish show-down between Gary Anderson and Peter Wright.

Wright, last year's beaten finalist, staved off elimination by just one point and now has a mountain to climb if he is to turn his fortunes around and mount a challenge for an immediate return to The O2.

The world number two has just one Premier League win to his name so far this year, losing four and drawing four - including successive 6-6 stalemates in his last two outings.

Wright and Anderson also played out a draw in Berlin in a high quality contest which saw both players average in excess of 104.

Anderson's indifferent first half of the season is underlined by three wins, three draws and three defeats from his opening nine fixtures, though he remains firmly in the mix for play-off spot, just one point adrift of the top four.

The two-time Premier League champion whitewashed his colourful compatriot 6-0 in the final of a Players Championship event last month and has dominated their recent head-to-heads, losing just one of their last eight encounters.

Wright will return later in the evening for a crucial clash with Van Barneveld which could go some way towards determining both players' fate in the race for the play-offs.

Van Barneveld found himself on the receiving end of a rampant Michael Smith display last time out, suffering only the ninth whitewash in Premier League history after 'Bully Boy' missed just one dart at a double in the entire contest.

Van Barneveld, the 2014 champion, is two points adrift of fourth spot and knows he can ill-afford to drop more than two points if he is to maintain his strong record of top four finishes.

The Dutch maestro thrashed Wright 7-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this season and also defeated 'Snakebite' 6-4 in a ProTour event on Sunday.

His first test of the evening comes against debutant Daryl Gurney - who is unbeaten in his last five Premier League outings and now has his sights set on a Semi-Final berth.

Gurney, who became a father for the first time last Thursday, made a last-minute trip to Liverpool and played out an emotional 6-6 draw with Wright shortly after receiving the news that Eric Bristow had passed away.

The World Grand Prix champion has now drawn more matches (five) than any other player in this season's Premier League and will be keen to convert those stalemates into wins as he enters the business end of the competition.

Second faces third as Michael Smith meets Rob Cross in another mouth-watering prospect in South Yorkshire.

Smith's sensational start to the season appears to be showing little sign of relenting as the rejuvenated St Helens star closes in on a play-off spot in only his second Premier League campaign.

Smith has maintained his red hot form in floor events, notably claiming the Players Championship Seven title last Saturday, and remains just two points adrift of league leader Michael van Gerwen.

It was Cross who inflicted Smith's first defeat of the competition courtesy of a narrow 7-5 triumph in Leeds last month and a further victory here would move him level on points with the world number ten.

Cross has won six of his last seven Premier League games and six of his seven previous meetings with Smith; he also boasts the highest checkout percentage of the field at 47.62.

Defending champion Van Gerwen aims to record his eighth consecutive Premier League win when he faces play-off chasing Simon Whitlock.

Van Gerwen has lost just one of his nine matches so far and remains on course for a Premier League record points tally in his quest to secure top spot for the sixth season running and the £25,000 bonus.

The world number one boasts a blistering tournament average of 103.62, almost ten points higher than Whitlock, and could take a huge step towards confirming top spot with a win here and a slip-up for Smith against Cross.

Whitlock, meanwhile, ended a run of five games without a win as he thrashed a dejected Price 7-3 in statistically the worst match of the tournament so far.

The 2012 runner-up currently occupies that all-important fourth position but faces a formidable task against the green machine - who was a 7-4 winner in the reverse fixture.

The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs at the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield.

Unibet Premier League 2018 Schedule

Night Ten - Thursday April 12

7.15pm Raymond van Barneveld v Daryl Gurney
8.00pm Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
8.45pm Simon Whitlock v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Michael Smith v Rob Cross
10.15pm Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright

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Live Darts on Thursday April 12: Premier League Darts Sheffield preview and order of play

The second phase of the 2018 Premier League commences in Sheffield on Thursday, with Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright both called into action twice.

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