Betway Premier League play-off picks: How will the final four fare at the O2?
Our expert thinks we'll see a surprise in the season finale, with his tips for the evening boosted to 4/1...
Michael van Gerwen to beat Gary Anderson –
With four Premier League titles between them in the last six years, it is no surprise that this pair are heading back to the O2.
Few, however, would have predicted them to meet in the semi-finals, after Anderson only qualified in fourth with just seven wins in 16 matches.
Such patchy form means the Flying Scotsman has few reasons to feel optimistic of an upset here.
Van Gerwen hasn't been at his best this campaign, but he still boasts the tournament’s best checkout percentage.
He is also the only player not to dip below a three-figure average all season.
That relentless consistency leaves little room for error, as Anderson discovered just last week when recording his lowest average of the tournament (94.32) to lose 7-4.
MVG has now won seven of the eight matches either side of their draw on the opening night of this competition.
Ominously, the Dutchman has also won all four of his Premier League semi-finals to date, and all the signs point to him continuing that perfect record on Thursday.
Phil Taylor to beat Peter Wright –
Seven tournament wins – including three on the European Tour and a maiden TV title at the UK Open – demonstrate the strides Wright has made this season in challenging the established hierarchy.
A first-ever Premier League play-off, though, is a different challenge entirely, especially when taking on an opponent who already has 11 to his name.
Taylor, clearly, is no longer the force that he once was, but he has retained an ability to scrap it out with the very best, having beaten all three of the other semi-finalists over the course of this season.
Crucially, Wright has averaged less than Taylor over the last six weeks, meaning the Power’s biggest weakness – a diminished scoring ability – is unlikely to be punished.
And, should the game come down to finishing under pressure, then it is Taylor – with the tournament’s second-highest checkout percentage – who can be confident of coming out on top.
Particularly over a longer format that will give him plenty of chances to put all of that guile to good use.
Michael van Gerwen to beat Phil Taylor in the final –
That, of course, would leave us with a fairytale final that is brimming with narrative.
But, in his final bow in the competition, it will surely prove too much for darts’ most decorated player to give one last lesson to the only person capable of ever matching his achievements in the sport.
Taylor did manage to get the better of Van Gerwen just two weeks ago, though that was just his second victory in their 12 Premier League meetings.
And, over a maximum of 21 legs, keeping up with the Dutchman’s ferocious scoring should prove almost impossible.
Van Gerwen, remember, won both of his Premier League crowns against Taylor – the first a narrow win in 2013 followed by a thumping 11-3 victory last year.
And given the Power’s gradual decline in the 12 months since, the world No. 1 should take another step towards Taylor’s record tally of six titles on Thursday, and bag the £250,000 prize in the process.