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PDC – Darts: Gezzy needs Premier performance in Leeds

Former world No.1 Gerwyn Price is on the slide in Premier League 2022 and will be desperate to avoid the "curse of eighth place" as he seeks to reignite his campaign in Leeds.

It's Night Nine of the new-look Premier League campaign and the eight PDC aces are off to the First Direct Arena in Leeds where Michael van Gerwen is 10/3 to take the honours.

Jonny Clayton, victorious in Birmingham last Thursday and in some style, is 4/1, as is fellow Welshman Gerwyn Price, who has it all to do given his form – and his draw.

Price will toe the oche in Leeds as the last name on the draw bracket and that's a position that has proved fruitless over the first half of the campaign.

There is no throwing for the bull's-eye for the honour of throwing first in the Premier League. Each night is pre-drawn and the first-named player in each match has the honour.

Which means that if you are the last name on the draw bracket, you'll be throwing second in every game you play.

And on the evidence of the competition so far, being the eighth and final name on the draw is a death knell. Of the seven fourth quarter-final ties played, just two have been won by the player throwing second. And on each occasion that player was dumped out in the semis.

Price on the slide

Price is expected to buck that trend because he will toe the oche an 8/15 shot "away" against James Wade, who is a 6/4 chance. But given the stats and, more importantly, Price's form, he's an easy man to oppose at those prices.

Price, who started the year as reigning world champion and world No.1 but no longer boasts either of those accolades, has been on the Premier League slide.

He was second in the standings after winning in Belfast on Night Three, just a point behind Clayton.

Since then, he has won just one match as he recovers from a hand injury that is clearly troubling him.

He didn't look great in Barnsley over the course of last weekend, either, playing in all three Players Championship events but winning just four games and averaging under 93 in six of the seven games he played.

And that, from a man who chucks three-figure averages for fun, is a worrying fall-off, though presumably as his hand gets better, so does his form.

Smith needs to make top spot count

For now, though, Price is not a man you'd probably want to back for glory on Night Nine, a card which kicks off with Michael Smith against Peter Wright.

Conversely, of course, if the last-named player on the bracket is destined to be throwing last every game, the first-named player gets the benefit of chucking first in every match he plays.

And, interestingly, the first-named player on the previous eight nights has also yet to emerge with the honours, although the last time Smith was No.1 on the sheet he did go on to make the final in Nottingham where he was touched off by Gary Anderson.

So Smith throws first against Snakebite in Leeds where the Englishman gets an 11/10 quote, the Scot 8/11.

Wright has suffered fewer first-round defeats than any other player in the field – two – and Smith is struggling for any sort of consistency. He's under pressure as only one of two men in the field yet to taste nightly honours and needs points to stay in touch with the top four.

Those sort of stakes might just play into Wright's hands.

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Ando and MvG meet yet again

Michael van Gerwen made it five wins in the last month when he dotted up at Players Championship 10 on Saturday and should, therefore, feel enormously confident of landing 8/15 odds against Gary Anderson.

The Green Machine and the Scot have already met three times over the last eight weeks with Anderson winning twice. He's 6/4 to complete a three-timer over the current Premier League leader.

The other match sees Clayton hoping to build on last week's magnificent effort by taking care of Joe Cullen. Clayton, who averaged a shade under 105 conquering all in Birmingham, is 4/6 to take care of Rockstar, who's a 6/5 chance.

For Clayton to win Night Nine at odds of 4/1 he will also have to defy his position in the draw bracket – sixth – from where no one has yet gone into the winner's enclosure.

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