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Can Michael Van Gerwen Be Stopped On Premier League Darts Finals Night?

Can Michael Van Gerwen Be Stopped On Premier League Darts Finals Night?
Tuesday,May 15,2018

After 15 weeks of fancy dress wearing, singing, dancing and waking foam fingers around Europe, London’s O2 Arena hosts the 2018 Premier League Darts finals night on Thursday.


Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross finished the regular season as the top four players and head to London with dreams of winning the play-offs and being crowned Premier League champion.


Van Gerwen who is the reigning champ and has won this event three times in total, and two-time champ Anderson are old hands at this showpiece occasion at the O2. But for Smith, an 80/1 outsider when the season began and participating in the Premier League for just the second time, and debutant Cross, this is all new.


MVG topped the regular season table for the sixth successive season, and his reward for that is a semi-final with world champion Rob Cross, who beat Van Gerwen on the way to his stunning Ally Pally triumph, while Bully Boy Smith, who was relegated with a paltry three points in his only other Premier League campaign, faces his close friend and mentor Anderson in the other last four clash.


It’s also the last chance for you to play our big money Predictor this season, with a total of more than £1,100 to be won across our pools, for predicting all the key action. On top of that, there’re Match Pools to play for both semi-finals, with eight questions to answer on how you see each match going.


Michael Smith v Gary Anderson

The shock of the Premier League season has been the form of Michael Smith. After a terrible debut season in 2016 returned only three points and relegation, Bully Boy was a left field choice for a much changed 2018 line-up that featured four debutantes. Having looked out of his depth two years ago though, Smith has been Mr Consistent, winning his first four games, never falling out of the play-off spots all season and finishing second to Michael van Gerwen in the Premier League table.


Bully Boy lost only five games all season, although worryingly they were all against the other three players to make it to Thursday’s O2 play-offs, going down in both games against both MVG and Rob Cross and splitting the two games with Gary Anderson.


Smith has been suffering with pleurisy of late and it remains to be seen whether he will be 100% fit for arguably the biggest night of his darts career.


His semi-final opponent is close friend and mentor Gary Anderson, who sealed third place in the table with a thrilling win over table topping MVG on the final night of the regular season last week.


The Flying Scotsman makes the final four for the fourth successive year, although three of those have seen him bow out in the semi-finals.


The 2018 campaign has been a bit stop start for Anderson, with a long-term back problem casting a shadow over part of the season.


He won only one of his first six games, then six of the next seven as he found some form, lost back-to-back games to Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld, before sealing his play-off spot with that final night win over MVG.


Anderson will point to the back problem being one of the reasons he went down 7-5 to his protegee early in the Premier League season, and he beat Smith 7-2 when fully fit to exact revenge later in the campaign.


Given Smith’s struggles against the big boys, Anderson will start favourite, but Bully Boy has been upsetting the odds all season and he will be determined to do the same again here. That’s why Smith is x3 to win in our Match Pool, with Anderson strong favourite at x1, while a winning margin of four legs or more at x2 could be a decent shout considering the semi-finals are best of 19 legs.


Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross

MVG is looking to lift the Premier League title for the third successive season, and once again he has dominated the regular season. He has appeared in all six finals since joining the Premier League in 2013 and after losing in week two to Peter Wright - the man who had six darts to win last year’s final against Van Gerwen - Mighty Mike won eight successive games to pull clear.


He lost back-to-back matches to Wright and Raymond van Barneveld, but a draw with Daryl Gurney preceded wins against final four opponents Smith and Cross before rounding out the season with a narrow loss against Anderson.


A semi-final against Cross is a mouthwatering prospect, given the Dutchman’s sudden death leg semi-final defeat when they met in the 2018 World Championship semi.


Van Gerwen won both regular season games 7-2 against Cross, who is without a win in his past five games and pulled out of the weekend’s Dutch Darts Masters - won by MVG of course - through injury.


The world champ started slowly in his debut Premier League season with heavy back-to-back defeats against Van Gerwen and Simon Whitlock, but seven wins in his next eight games saw Cross establish himself in the top four.


His stuttering end to the campaign saw Voltage slip to fourth in the table, and a semi with MVG, but Cross is coolness personified, so taking on Mighty Mike in front of a huge O2 crowd won’t phase him. That being said, he’s x4 to make it to the final, while MVG is just x1 in our Match Pool but expect this one to go all the way, leaving two legs or fewer at x1 a possible option in the winning margin question.


Looking at the results on paper it looks like another Premier League season dominated by Michael van Gerwen and an obvious title defence for the Dutchman.


But as we’ve seen all season, on their day any of this final four can beat the other, and MVG came so close to losing to Peter Wright in last year’s final, surviving six match darts, that this is a far more open battle than some will have you believe.


At his best, van Gerwen can’t be beaten, but he’ll have to hit his straps to beat world champ Cross before taking on either Anderson or Smith to win his third successive Premier League title.


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