In-form Gary Anderson can claim overdue World Grand Prix victory
Hot favourite Van Gerwen worth taking on
Sky Sports Arena, 7pm Sunday
After another big prize evaded Michael van Gerwen’s grasp, the world’s finest arrowsmith is on the drift as the PDC’s finest gather in Dublin for the World Grand Prix.
The four established majors – the World Championship, Matchplay, UK Open and Grand Prix – are how some measure greatness but Mighty Mike doesn’t hold any of them going into the last of them at the Citywest Hotel.
Daryl Gurney is defending the crown this week and Gary Anderson is in the richest form of the big boys having last Sunday added the Champions League trophy to the two majors he trousered earlier in the year.
Van Gerwen, odds-on for this event a couple of weeks ago, goes off 6-5.
Gary Anderson, not Michael van Gerwen, is the best player in the world right now according to ex-pro and esteemed judge Chris Mason, and doubtless many more.
Anderson, who won at 9-2 in the Champions League in Brighton last week, goes to post an almighty 7-1 for the Grand Prix.
This week will be tougher but he has to be on anyone’s shortlist.
Historically this was the PDC major that appealed least to the Flying Scotsman given its unique double-in, double-out format and the brevity of the round-one matches, which are best-of-three sets, which catch out so many of the best players. Never the most reliable of doublers, Anderson rarely made much of an impact.
But he is a completely different animal now. You don’t win four majors and a couple of Premier Leagues without knowing your way around the outside of a darts board and his run to the 2016 final in Dublin, where he succumbed to Van Gerwen, proved that point.
Last week in Brighton Anderson delivered a 56 per cent checkout rate in a win over Van Gerwen, 52 per cent in his semi against Mensur Suljovic and a stunning 65 per cent against Peter Wright in the final. Anything better than 33 per cent is good so Anderson’s numbers were breathtaking.
Van Gerwen is throwing in too many suspect performances. Granted, it took finishing of an eye-watering level from Wright to end his interest in the Champions League, but the Dutchman has lost 19 matches in total this year and is a long way from invincible.
From the bottom half of the draw
With the two market leaders in the top half of the draw, Peter Wright and Rob Cross are the big names in the other section.
World champion Cross, a first-round casualty on his Dublin debut last year, is in no sort of form whereas Snakebite at least boasts a consistency which suggests he ought to be able to go far. Except that he has only ever won three matches in six visits to the Citywest.
Equally, Michael Smith has suffered four first-round exits in five trips while his first-round opponent, Adrian Lewis, hasn’t got past round two since reaching the 2010 final.
Patience is required and that’s where Mensur Suljovic and James Wade stand out. And unfortunately they face each other in round one.
Suljovic gets the nod. He has reached the semis, quarters and semis in the last three years. The Austrian has become absolutely fearless, as he proved again last weekend when he beat Wright, Cross and Simon Whitlock in 24 hours to reach the Champions League semi-finals.
We’ve been waiting for Joe Cullen to arrive for a while and finally he looks the part.
Rock Star has the big-stage swagger which indicates he can play on TV, as illustrated at the Matchplay in July where he thrashed Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney before losing in overtime to Gary Anderson in a thriller.
He’s had a semi-final and a quarter-final in European Tour events since Blackpool and arrives in Ireland with his game in good shape.
Cullen’s demolition of Price came when the Welshman was recovering from an Achilles injury. He has just come out of his medical boot and was victorious at the International Open two weeks ago.
Forget the poor Price you saw in the Premier League. He is all about confidence and if he’s feeling bad about his game he will throw poorly. But now he feels good and he could well mount a challenge.
If Anderson or Suljovic slip up, Cullen and Price can make runs in an arrersfest which has been littered with big-priced finalists down the years.
2pts 7-1 Sky Bet
1pt each-way 20-1 general
0.5pt each-way 80-1 BoyleSports
0.5pt each-way 80-1 general
Read Racing Post Sport every day for no-nonsense previews and expert sports betting tips
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport