Anderson can pip Van Gerwen to claim third title
Flying Scotsman to atone for World Championshipo defeat
Week One, Newcastle
Sky Sports 2, 7pm Thursday
The first two finals of the year have been contested by Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson, and the world’s top two are also set to leave the field in their wake in the Betway Premier League, which starts in Newcastle.
Van Gerwen, the 8-13 favourite, and Anderson, 9-2 second favourite, have contested eight finals in the past two years during which time they have set the bar higher and higher.
It’s hard to imagine them not making the playoffs and just as hard to imagine them meeting in the semis since the regular season champion (presumably Mighty Mike) takes on the man who finishes fourth (presumably not the silky Scot, who should come in second or third).
Much can happen over the three months or so of a Premier League campaign but, coinciding with the gradual demise of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld, the Anderson-Van Gerwen rivalry is going to run and run and, at the prices, the Scot looks a bit of value to be the man who triumphs at London’s O2 Arena on May 18.
Anderson, twice a Premier League winner, goes off a bigger price than 12 months ago, though so does everyone else given how much Van Gerwen takes out of the book.
But he continues to play beautifully. Anderson produced four 102-plus averages in his four matches at the Masters in Milton Keynes at the weekend and, after seeing off The Power in the semis, was pipped 11-7 by Van Gerwen.
Consistency is everything in this event because in the last three years players have needed either 19 or 20 points just to get into the playoffs. Blowing hot and cold in the Premier League just doesn’t cut it which may explain why the mercurial Adrian Lewis, for example, has made only one final in nine tilts at this title.
The bespectacled Anderson definitely has that consistency and, even in a stellar field, looks a cut above the majority.
The scrap for the semis looks more intense than ever – Taylor, for example, is 6-5 to make the last four, while Adrian Lewis and Barney are both 9-4 shots. Multi-Major winner James Wade is 11-4.
The Power, if the appetite is back, must be worth a punt. He still wins more than he loses and maybe he will feel the pressure is off now that he is the chaser rather than the chased. Ton-plus averages remain as standard and the six-time winner knows how to succeed in the Premier League.
Not making the playoffs in 2015 hurt him badly and with retirement on the horizon and a lighter workload over the coming months, a night out at the O2 is on the cards.
For the first time in this invitational marathon – the top four in the world qualify by right with the remaining six, including Euro raiders Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts, hand-picked by the PDC and Sky.
You can certainly see why these two have been preferred to world number eight Mensur Suljovic, yet Huybrechts is ranked 13 and he had a shocker on his only previous appearance. Huybrechts is favourite to finish bottom at 7-4 but I prefer the 2-1 for Klaasen.
The Cobra won just one match out of 11 when he squeezed into the 2009 field and could easily struggle again.
Barring an arm amputation, Van Gerwen will make the semis, which means he will also get at least one match more than most of his rivals.
I particuarly like the 5-4 he hits most tournament 180s. He won this market by 14 last year.
2pts 9-2 general
P Taylor to make semis
2pts 6-5 bet365, Betway and Lads
J Klaasen to finish bottom
1pt 2-1 bet365, Coral, Sky Bet
MvG to hit most tournament 180s
1pt 5-4 Betway