Live Darts on Thursday May 3: Premier League Darts Birmingham preview and order of play

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Anderson and Van Barneveld raise a glass (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The three remaining Premier League play-off places could be cemented on Thursday as Birmingham hosts the penultimate night of round-robin action.

Reigning and three-time Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen has already secured his place in the Semi-Finals at The O2 later this month, leaving four players to battle it out for the three remaining places.

The equation, however, is relatively simple: fifth placed Daryl Gurney must avoid defeat and hope that those above him slip up if he is to have any chance of gatecrashing finals night.

Gurney starts the night three points adrift of fourth-placed Gary Anderson with four points left to play for and knows a defeat to Michael Smith would end his hopes of appearing at The O2 in his debut season.

After failing to win in his opening six games, Gurney has lost just two of his next eight and has hit more 180s (57) than any other player in the competition.

Smith, meanwhile, starts the night in third position, behind Rob Cross only by virtue of an inferior legs difference but four points clear of Gurney.

While 'Bully Boy' is, to all intensive purposes, all but assured of a play-off place for the first time, a point in Birmingham would officially confirm his progression.

Smith was a 7-4 winner in the reverse fixture in Cardiff back in February and has won four of the last five meetings between the two power-scorers.

Undoubtedly the pick of the night's fixtures features defending champion Van Gerwen taking on World Champion Rob Cross in a repeat of their epic Semi-Final at Ally Pally last December.

Cross held firm in a sudden death shoot-out to reach his first world final before going on to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy, though MVG gained revenge of sorts at the first time of asking by thrashing 'Voltage' 7-2 in Week One of the Premier League in Dublin.

Cross is three points adrift of league leader MVG and still harbours hopes of snatching top spot and the £25,000 bonus from his rival's grasp with victory here and by bettering the Dutchman's result in Aberdeen next week.

After winning eight of his last nine games, Cross has gone three games without a win but crucially heads to Birmingham safe in the knowledge he will be at The O2 barring a miraculous turn of events.

Van Gerwen ended his three-match winless run with a 7-1 rout of Smith in Manchester last week to remain odds-on favorite to both finish top and go on to retain his crown.

He also claimed Saturday's Players Championship title to take his tally to nine for the season and continues to hold down the ton-plus tournament average (103.37).

Another tasty tussle sees two former Premier League and World Champions collide as Gary Anderson faces Raymond van Barneveld.

Anderson arrives in the Midlands knowing that a win would be enough to seal his play-off spot and end Gurney's hopes despite the Scot having been outside the top four for the first seven weeks of competition.

His run of four consecutive wins was brought to an end by a shock 7-5 defeat to Simon Whitlock last week and Anderson will be keen to return to winning ways and finish higher than fourth in order to avoid a likely Semi-Final show-down with Van Gerwen.

Van Barneveld is one of three players effectively playing for pride in the last two weeks of the regular season after a 6-6 draw with Cross last week ended his hopes of snatching a top four spot.

The 2014 Premier League champion rose to the occasion with back-to-back wins on home soil in Rotterdam, but it was not enough to save his season, though the 51-year-old will be determined to finish on a high.

A basement battle kicks off the night as former Premier League finalists Peter Wright and Simon Whitlock collide.

Wright enters the evening bottom of the pile following a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Smith last time out - his fourth defeat by that scoreline this season.

The colourful Scot can still finish as high as sixth in what would be a £10,000 leap in prize money, though a win for Whitlock would leave him odds-on favourite to finish eighth.

Whitlock spent the first six weeks in the top four before a run of four straight defeats ended his play-off dream, though the Australian stopped the rot by beating Anderson thanks to an impressive display in Manchester.

The duo played out a 6-6 stalemate in Belfast in March with both averaging 98 and look set for another close-run contest here.

The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs at the Arena Birmingham.

Unibet Premier League 2018 Schedule

Thursday May 3

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

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Live Darts on Thursday May 3: Premier League Darts Birmingham preview and order of play

The three remaining Premier League play-off places could be cemented on Thursday as Birmingham hosts the penultimate night of round-robin action.

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