Fresh off the double-header in Rotterdam, the Premier League rolls into Manchester for night 14. With only three rounds until the play-offs in London, the eight remaining players will be seeking the valuable wins that will guarantee them a spot in the capital on May 17th.
Here are our darts expert’s thoughts on this week’s matches.
Daryl Gurney v Michael van Gerwen
First meets fifth as two men who only won one match between them in Holland face-off.
MVG lost to both Peter Wright and Raymond van Barneveld in Holland, but still sits top of the Premier League table. His cushion is just a point though now and this is not the time to be going through a dip in form.
The world number one is the overwhelming 1/4 favourite for this match.
He faces Gurney who lost to the in-form Rob Cross in Rotterdam before crushing Simon Whitlock 7-1 and will look to continue his winning run as he bids to make it to the top-four.
Like many of MVG’s matches, he starts as the red-hot favourite and the majority will be expecting him to get back to winning ways against Gurney.
I must admit I’m in that camp but at such skinny odds, I’m happy to look elsewhere for some value.
Van Gerwen averaged over 103 in Holland but managed just two 180s and began to look frustrated when the third dart failed to land in the bed of the treble 20.
In contrast, Gurney hit 7 180s but this difference isn’t reflected in the prices of most 180s with both players available to back at 6/5 – I fancy Gurney to continue his form on the maximums, and hit more 180s than MVG.
Raymond van Barneveld v Rob Cross
Based on recent evidence, this could be a cracker, with both players in form and peaking nicely for the business stage of the tournament.
Barney comes into this off an impressive couple of nights in Rotterdam where he defeated both Whitlock and van Gerwen – wins which were badly needed as he hunts for a play-off spot.
He sits four points off fourth and will need to continue the form he showed in Holland to maintain his last-gasp attempt to book his spot in London. He is 5/2 for this game.
Cross’s defeat on the first night in Rotterdam was his first since night nine and his impressive stretch during the middle of the tournament has all but guaranteed his place in the last four.
The world champion comes into this one as Grosvenorsport.com’s 4/5 favourite.
This is the match that could really set the night alight and it’s the one I’m most looking forward to watching.
I’m expecting it to be super-tight and it could easily be a draw and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing that at 7/2.
Taking this into account, the other bet I’m keen on is over 11.5 legs at evens.
Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen
Another match which sees two players who are in a strong position to qualify for the play-offs as MVG returns to the oche for the second time to face Michael Smith.
Smith, sits in fourth place in the table, three points clear of Daryl Gurney in fifth. The Englishman will be knowing a win against MVG will all but secure his position in London in three weeks.
Smith did as nickname suggests and bullied Simon Whitlock in his last match, winning 7-1 which included a superb 160 checkout.
If as my prediction expects, Mighty Mike beats Gurney earlier in the night, then he should come into this one full of confidence, and with the head-to-head between the two reading 20-5 in MVG’s favour, he has every reason to be.
The world number one is the overwhelming 1/3 favourite for the final match of the evening.
I fully expect MVG to make it two wins from two in Manchester here but again, with that being so short, I’ll be hunting for a bit more value.
So far in the tournament, these two have hit 75 180s between them, at an average of just over three per game. Grosvenorsport.com have set the mark at 6.5 for the number of 180s in the match and I’ll be siding with under that at 5/6.