Gary Anderson can turn the tables on ailing Bully Boy
Crocked Cross should be easy meat for Mighty Mike
Sky Sports Arena 7pm Thursday
Michael van Gerwen has never failed to make a Premier League final and he should extend that sequence at the O2 in London – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the deadly Dutch sharpshooter will walk off with the winner’s cheque.
Six times the world number one has appeared in the Premier League and six times he’s gone into the playoffs having topped the league.
But twice before he’s been stunned in the final, by Raymond van Barneveld in 2014 and Gary Anderson a year later, and the Scot looks the value at 4-1 to lift the trophy for a third time.
Van Gerwen and Anderson are short prices to sail through the semis, and it’s easy to see why.
Mighty Mike comes up against world champion Rob Cross, who he has already battered twice during the course of the league campaign.
Cross is also suffering from a discomforting chest injury, as is Michael Smith, who plays Anderson in the second semi.
Cross’s pain is such that he pulled out of a European tour event in Holland at the weekend while Smith did turn up and got thrashed 6-0 by Stephen Bunting for his troubles.
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Head-to-head: Van Gerwen leads 10-2
Finals night couldn’t have come at a worse time for Rob Cross, who has got a pain in his chest and a thorn in his side to contend with in the first semi-final.
The world champion looked out of sorts in a disappointing 6-6 draw with Simon Whitlock last Thursday night (his fifth successive Premier League match without a win) and duly skipped the Dutch Masters in Zwolle over the weekend after being diagnosed with costochondritis, a chest ailment that is causing him considerable grief.
He would want to be fully fit taking on Van Gerwen, especially over the extended format of best of 19, and that has got to spell serious trouble for the Englishman.
Van Gerwen has played Cross twice in the competition and thumped him 7-2 each time. He also boasts a 10-2 head-to-head record over Voltage. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the three-time champ is going to complete a hat-trick of romps against his wounded opponent.
Van Gerwen, who won the Dutch Masters on Sunday, is short enough – indeed, he’s only 9-4 for the win, most 180s and highest checkout treble.
The layers have 180s in for 10.5 and high checkout at 130-135, both of which are hard to fault.
Take a chance on a couple of correct scores with Van Gerwen winning with plenty in hand.
M van Gerwen to beat R Cross 10-4
1pt 17-2 BoyleSports
M van Gerwen to beat R Cross 10-5
1pt 6-1 general
Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
H2H: Anderson leads 9-3
Bully Boy and the Flying Scotsman will put friendships on the back burner when they come to the serious business of trying to book a spot in the final.
They boast a win each this season, although Smith’s success came in Week One, in February, when Anderson was struggling with a back injury. By Week 11 Anderson was firing on all cylinders, chucking in a near-110 average when thrashing the St Helens slinger 7-2.
Smith is in trouble at the moment having been diagnosed with pleurisy.
He looked in some pain against Barney last week but managed to get a point with a 93 average. By the end he was really grimacing and this semi-final has the potential to go a lot further than 12 legs.
Two days later Smith was in Zwolle playing Stephen Bunting in the Dutch Masters and was clobbered 6-0. He had only two looks at double and had he not been chasing a World Cup slot he wouldn’t have gone.
Smith has since been practising with a slightly modified stance in an attempt to find some degree of comfort but that can’t be helpful going into such a massive match. Changing flights is a big deal for these pros so changing posture, no matter how negligible, is pretty radical.
Take Anderson, who has pegged 57 maximums to Smith’s 41 over the campaign, to do the most 180s-match win double.
G Anderson to win Premier League playoffs
2pts 4-1 Betway
G Anderson to win and hit most 180s v M Smith
2pts 6-5 Betway
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