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Premier League Darts 2021: Wayne Mardle casts his verdict on who makes the top four

Just five points separate top from bottom in this year’s Premier League, and Wayne Mardle believes the debutants will continue to thrive as he picks his top four and the champion….and there’s a surprise in store.

What we have this week are three nights that are likely to set things up for the final week where there will be a crowd for the final five days and that will change things.

Every missed dart at a double will be magnified because you’ll have the oohs and the aahs of the crowd but right now it is a fascinating table.

You look at the stalwarts like Gary Anderson and Peter Wright who are struggling in seventh and eighth place but that is only position-wise because points-wise they are still very much in it.

Michael van Gerwen is nowhere near anything like his best and that will remain a concern for him and in contrast to all three of those you look at the debutants this year – Jonny Clayton, Jose De Sousa and Dimitri Van den Bergh – and, spoiler alert, I am predicting that all three of those will now make the play-offs.

It is the way that I have changed my thinking and the likes of Anderson, Van Gerwen, Wright and Wade – who by the way is playing some of his best stuff since his mid-20s – they don’t have the right to dominate perhaps in the way they used to.

These debutants they play these multiple world and major champions so often that it is not any bigger game than when they play each other – there is no fear and they are not intimidated any more and there is definitely a slight change in the order of the darting world.

But if Van Gerwen goes out and wins would that be a shock? Not at all. Before the lockdown MvG’s form had started to go, Gary had become a bit disinterested in the game and I feel for Peter who had no chance to celebrate being a world champion.

But all the guys now are different animals. They live better, they prepare right, their performance management is better than those that have gone before them and they practice.

Gary has always said he doesn’t practice much, Peter has always been chopping and maybe that has caught up with him. But it’s interesting times because they don’t need a settling in period because they are already champions in their own right.

Whichever of the eight goes on to win it, it wouldn’t surprise you – that’s where we are, but like last year we could find ourselves in a position where we have two debutants in the final.

Who makes the final four?

I have changed my mind so often, but when I am away from the hullaballoo of production, I watch darts videos to see how people are throwing and when I watch Dimitri, Jose and Jonny and the way they are playing now, they are at the top of their game.

To top the table is Dimitri, to come second is Jose, third is Nathan Aspinall and for the second year running there is no space for Michael van Gerwen, I think Jonny Clayton gets in – because these are players that are playing well and not on a decline.

Nathan Aspinall might not be at the top of his game but he has proven without doubt that he has the guts, the determination and the performance management where he calms himself down and then gee himself up is first class.

We’ve said ‘Did Dimitri win the Matchplay because of the lack of a crowd? Did Jose win the Grand Slam because of no crowd? The same for Jonny Clayton.

Hold on. The one I keep going back to is Gerwyn Price who is the one who keeps saying ‘I have really struggled without the fans’ and he goes and becomes world champion and world no 1 without any fans

Of course the crowd has something to do with it, but it doesn’t have everything to do with it – good players win these events. All of these players in the Premier League are proving they are big stage players, big-time players.

At the end of it all I think Dimitri wins. I have said for some time now that his career has got legs, the World Matchplay is going to just be the start and I think he will lift the Premier League title.

Watch full coverage of every night of the Premier League on Sky Sports, and stick with us through the year as we bring you the latest darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts

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