Dream Aberdeen Homecoming For Henderson
Scottish crowd favourite Henderson is set to be roared on by 4,000 passionate fans at The BHGE Arena as he looks to cause an upset against four-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen.
Henderson will be the fifth Contender to make their Premier League bow following the withdrawal of Gary Anderson, and the Huntly man spoke to The Darts Show ahead of one of the biggest nights of his career.
“I’m playing against the best player in the world, so I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m going to go up there and enjoy it,” said Henderson, who stunned Van Gerwen on his way to the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix in 2017.
“Although I beat Michael in the World Grand Prix a couple of years ago, I know that was in a completely different environment and it won’t count for anything on Thursday.
“I must admit it was a great surprise when I got the call to play in the Premier League, but it’s always been a dream of mine since joining the PDC.
“I think my form has come on quite a bit since the Worlds, I’ve got the confidence now and I’ve had a good start to the ProTour season so I can hopefully take that form into Thursday.”
Current league leader Van Gerwen will be hoping to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeats for what would be just the second time since his 2013 debut campaign.
The world number one suffered a shock 7-3 reverse to James Wade in Exeter on Night Four to end his winning start to the campaign, before crashing out of the UK Open at the first hurdle to Mervyn King the following day.
“I didn’t perform to my best in the last two matches but fair play to James Wade and Mervyn King, they played good games to beat me,” said three-time World Champion Van Gerwen.
“Those games are gone now and I have to focus 100 per cent on the next game against John Henderson, who is a player I have a lot of respect for and I know he’ll be up for it in front of the amazing Scottish fans.
“Any match or tournament I don’t win is a bad one for me but that doesn’t say anything for the next match – the same as it wouldn’t say anything if I had won the UK Open.
“Everybody can see from the table for the last six years that I am the most feared opponent for the other players and I know that if I play my best, I win. It is simple as that.”
The opening clash of the night will see former World Champion Rob Cross meet World Championship and Premier League finalist Michael Smith in a repeat of Sunday’s UK Open semi-final, which saw Cross come out on top 11-7.
Departing Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld will make his final Premier League appearance in Aberdeen as he looks to move off the foot of the table with victory against Scotland’s Peter Wright.
In-form Welshman Gerwyn Price is the only player yet to taste defeat in this year’s competition, and he will be looking to preserve his unbeaten record against Mensur Suljovic, while second-placed Wade could go top with victory over Daryl Gurney.
The top four players at the end of 16 nights will face off in the Play-Offs at The O2 on May 23, while the ninth-placed player following Judgement Night in Rotterdam will face early elimination.
Night Five of the Unibet Premier League in Aberdeen will be shown live on Sky Sports, worldwide through the PDC’s broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Night Five – Thursday, March 7
The BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
Michael Smith v Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson
Unibet Premier League – Night Five Matches
6/4 Michael Smith – Draw 16/5 – Rob Cross 27/20
6/4 Daryl Gurney – Draw 3/1 – James Wade 6/4
8/5 Mensur Suljovic – Draw 16/5 – Gerwyn Price 5/4
11/4 Raymond Van Barneveld – Draw 18/5 – Peter Wright 8/11
2/13 Michael Van Gerwen – Draw 15/2 – John Henderson 10/1
Unibet Premier League Darts 2019 – To Win Outright
Michael Van Gerwen – 2/5
Rob Cross – 8/1
Michael Smith – 8/1
Peter Wright – 16/1
James Wade – 16/1 (from 28s)
Mensur Suljovic – 18/1
Gerwyn Price – 20/1
Daryl Gurney – 25/1
Raymond Van Barneveld – 125/1
Odds via www.unibet.co.uk and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.